The House Republicans are getting a lot of grief for their unsuccessful attempt to freeze domestic discretionary spending at last year’s levels. “Irresponsible,” “insane,” and “Don’t they know there’s a recesssion going on?” are some of the responses. But all such a spending freeze would do — we’re not talking about the entire federal budget here — is replace the Democrats’ $410 billion omnibus spending bill with last year’s appropriations at a savings of not even $20 billion.
A $17 billion reduction in the context of a $3.55 trillion budget isn’t insane or irresponsible. If anything, it is far too small to make much of a difference in Washington’s $1 trillion-a-month club. Like a lot of what the Republicans do, it is neither as outlandish as the Democrats make it sound nor something likely to produce great benefits for the economy or the GOP’s political fortunes.
UPDATE: Apparently I’m not making myself clear. As a fiscal and political response, the spending freeze falls well short of what the Republicans need to do. All I am saying is the argument that this would be some kind of radical defunding of the federal government in the midst of a recession is false.
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