House conservatives fight to regain fiscal responsibility


Encouraging news via the NY Times:

WASHINGTON, March 6 — With Congress heading into a politically perilous budget season, influential House conservatives plan this week to propose an austere alternative spending plan that would pare more than $650 billion over five years, balance the budget and drastically shrink three cabinet agencies.

The legislation, part of a push by some Republicans to re-establish themselves as champions of fiscal restraint, was taking shape as President Bush struck a similar theme on Monday by asking Congress to grant him line-item veto power to eliminate federal spending that he might judge wasteful.

“We can’t be all things to all people when it comes to spending the taxpayers’ money,” Mr. Bush said at a ceremony installing a new chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.

But House conservative leaders would go far beyond the president’s own budget proposal, illustrating the difficulty the White House and the Republican leadership have had in persuading the caucus to speak with one voice on the matter.

Senior aides say the conservatives’ plan would wring about $350 billion from Medicare, Medicaid and other social programs and save $300 billion partly through a major reorganization of the Education, Commerce and Energy Departments.

“We are putting our money where our mouth is,” said one of the officials, who would discuss the proposal only without being identified because it was still being prepared for release Wednesday by leaders of the Republican Study Committee.

The officials said it was particularly important for conservatives to lay down a marker because the Senate is facing an imminent vote on whether to increase the statutory debt limit, which will remind the public of the increasing deficits under the Bush administration.

It’s an election year, of course, so fiscal conservatives are trying now more than ever to show that they are at least making an effort to trim back the excess and unnecessary overspending we’ve seen in the last five years under the Bush administration. Election year or not, I’ll stand behind any effort at trimming the pork – let’s just hope once the election has come and gone and assuming those same conservatives get re-elected that they continue to push for a smaller gov’t with less spending.

Hat tip: Captain Ed

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