The President’s call for a five-year across-the-board freeze in non-defense discretionary spending–something his top advisors spelled out at the White House earlier today–got less-than-stellar reviews from some House Republicans, even before he completed his State of the Union address tonight.
Rumors that the President would call for such a freeze were rampant on Capitol Hill this afternoon. At a briefing at the White House, top economic advisor Gene Sperling explained the proposed freeze, which would apply to all discretionary spending not related to national defense except for Homeland Security and veterans’ benefits.
But the Republicans who spoke to HUMAN EVENTS as they went into the House chamber for the annual address by the President made it clear they were not impressed. As with critical comments on the Obama agenda for 2011, the toughest words came from the ranks of the 85 Republican freshman elected in November.
“It affects so little in the budget in terms of major spending,” Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) told us, “I have to say that when you only freeze and don’t major cuts, you don’t really make a dent in the deficit at all.”
The holder of a Master’s degree in Business Administration and former treasurer of Maricopa County, Schweikert pointed out that non-defense discretionary spending now comes to less than 15% of overall government spending and that the percentage is smaller once veterans’ benefits and Homeland Security is off the table.
Fellow freshman lawmaker Pat Meehan (R.-Penn.) pointed to the package he and his GOP colleagues unveiled earlier in the week as the starting point for discussions about reducing spending.
“We’re spelling out more than $100 billion in cuts this year,” Meehan told HUMAN EVENTS, contrasting the immediacy Republican package with the projection of Obama advisor Sperling that the spending freeze would save more than $400 billion over a ten-year period, “We’re talking about cuts that are real.”