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The aggregate budget deficit over the next five years will run to about $2 trillion, says the White House Office of Management and Budget, but Members of Congress show no interest in freezing the spending of any Cabinet department.

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Page 3: Will $2 Trillion in New Debt Inspire Spending Freeze?

The aggregate budget deficit over the next five years will run to about $2 trillion, says the White House Office of Management and Budget, but Members of Congress show no interest in freezing the spending of any Cabinet department.

The White House Office of Management and Budget projected last week that the federal deficit for fiscal 2003 will be $455 billion. It also predicted the government will accumulate $1.9 trillion in new debt over the next five years. HUMAN EVENTS Assistant Editor David Freddoso talked to Members of Congress to see if these new deficit figures had inspired a desire to freeze spending on even just one federal cabinet agency.

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The OMB estimates the federal government is running a $455 billion deficit this year, and $2 trillion more in deficit spending over the next five years. Will you vote to freeze spending in any federal cabinet-level department?

REP. RICK BOUCHER (D.-VA.): No. I’ll vote to repeal some of the tax cuts that are causing this. That’s my solution.

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OMB says we’re running a $455 billion deficit this year, and there will be $2 trillion more in deficit spending over the next five years. Will you support or vote for a freeze in spending in any single cabinet-level department?

SEN. MIKE DEWINE (R.-OHIO): Well, I don’t know. I haven’t thought about that. I’ll have to think about it.

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OMB says we’re running a $455 billion deficit this year, and there will be $2 trillion more in deficit spending over the next five years. With spending ballooning, will you vote to freeze spending in any cabinet-level department?

SEN. CHRISTOPHER DODD (D.-CONN.): Spending’s not the problem. Spending, as a percentage of GDP, is the lowest it’s been in a long time. Tax revenues-excluding Medicare and Social Security-corporate, individual, is the lowest it’s been since 1942. People talk about spending as a problem, but the OMB has said that 56% of the deficit is responsible for the taxing policies and domestic spending policies. Their policies, this is the administration’s OMB.

The tax cuts, you mean?

DODD: Yeah, that’s the OMB saying it. So the idea that this is a spending issue is ridiculous. I mean, it is one of the great myths of all time.

If tax cuts do create this problem, hasn’t spending done the same thing?

DODD: Well, they haven’t in this case. We’ve got some issues here, but it’s really a non-spending issue, it’s a tax issue.

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OMB says we’re running a $455 billion deficit this year, and there will be $2 trillion more in deficit spending over the next five years. Will you vote to freeze spending in any cabinet-level department?

SEN. JOHN ENSIGN (R.-NEV.): I don’t think we’re going to win any amendments, but we are looking at ways of at least offering amendments to-best way to say it, you’ll never freeze spending around here, but at least slow the rate of growth. And we are actually looking at various appropriations bills where we can do that. But bigger than that is maybe trying to put a mechanism into place, that if you get to a certain level of GDP as a percentage of deficit, spending cuts would automatically be forced. But we have to get some fiscal discipline exercised around this place, because right now, it’s out of control.

Why is it that every program has to be increased over the previous year’s spending?

ENSIGN: We don’t have enough votes to not do that. You saw it just in Americorps. The President didn’t request that. And what did we get-22 votes? . . . We just don’t have enough people that are willing to say no to spending. People get addicted to spending around here.

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OMB is saying we’re going to have a $455 billion deficit this year, and $2 trillion more in deficit spending over the next five years. Will you vote to freeze spending in any cabinet department?

REP. PETE KING (R.-N.Y.): No. Oh, you mean in one department? Well, maybe some. But I’m from the Jack Kemp school. I think that so long as we keep the deficit within a percentage of GDP, we’re doing OK. I’m more concerned about economic growth, that’s why I supported the tax cuts.

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OMB is saying we’re going to have a $455 billion deficit this year, and $2 trillion more in deficit spending over the next five years. Will you vote to freeze spending in any federal cabinet department?

REP. MIKE PENCE (R.-IND.): We have to hit the brakes on spending. Our voters are counting on it. Our supporters are counting on it. We also have to move a balanced budget amendment. The Bible says that without a vision, the people perish. It’s also true that without a vision, the majority will perish. . . . We’re fighting right now to get the Head Start program flat-lined in exchange for conservative votes [on the department of Education’s appropriations bill]. I think that flat-lining is a good place to start. Let’s hold down spending, not add $200 million to it.

Why does spending each year depend on how much was spent the year before?

PENCE: Beats the heck out of me.

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OMB is saying the federal government is running a $455 billion deficit this year, and $2 trillion more in deficit spending over the next five years. Will you vote to freeze spending in any cabinet department?

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R.-ALA.): I’m going to be active in urging containment of spending. The only time we balanced the budget was after four or five years of low-growth spending, 1% or less…For example, I offered the amendment on Americorps. We put $100 million into Americorps on the emergency bill. The effect was, it immediately added to the debt. It should have been in the regular appropriations bill, where we have a cap. We lost that in a big vote. But we’re going to have to keep a lot of those votes going, and I’m going to offer a lot of them. . . . And if we do that, only then, we’ll maybe have 20 senators grow to 40 and 50 senators. . . .

Why does spending always have to increase over the previous year?

SESSIONS: This idea that we can’t reduce spending is ridiculous. But we’ve somehow got it in our mind that if you vote for a reduction in a program, that you’re not kind and gentle, that you’re mean-spirited. Well that’s ridiculous. It’s wrong to take money from people who earned it and throw it away on programs and projects that don’t make sense. That is a fundamentally immoral act. . . . As we go into the fall and these appropriation bills move, the White House is going to have to start challenging us to reduce spending.

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OMB is estimating a $455 billion deficit this year, and $2 trillion more in deficit spending over the next five years. Will you vote to freeze spending in any cabinet-level department, and if so, which one?

REP. TOM TANCREDO (R.-COLO.): Not only would I vote to freeze spending on everything but the Department of Defense, but I’d vote to reduce discretionary spending, which is really probably the only thing we have any control over in this process. But I’m going to actually introduce something that creates a category in the remaining appropriations bills that’s called deficit reduction. And then you allow people to take money out of any bill and then allow people to take money out of any bill and put it into that new category. It’s a strange thing, but if we tomorrow take $100 million out of the Interior bill, it would still be spent. It just goes on the table, it doesn’t go back to the treasury. That’s the way the rules are. Anyone who suggests to you that the problem is not enough taxes-

Senator Dodd just did.

TANCREDO: Well that’s a typical Washington attitude. Americans are paying plenty. It is not a matter of taking more away from them. It is a matter of spending too much here. . . . I just keep thinking about the fact that it has been a Republican Congress that has increased spending in some of these programs so dramatically that it pales in comparison even to what the Democrats did. So you know, spending is a bi-partisan problem.

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Written By

Mr. Freddoso is the senior political reporter for the Evans-Novak Political Report.

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