Friday Appropriations Update: Boehner Has a Plan

With Congress returning from its summer break next week, the appropriations process should begin again as well. Since Congress has been gone for the past few weeks since we last updated you, there isn't anything new to report. But! Never fear, we have been using this time to revamp our patented AppropriationsWatchTM. We moved it over to GoogleDocs, allowing us to add links, which you can click to see the relevant documents for each appropriations bill. And, moving over to GoogleDocs makes it easier for you, the audience, if you want to copy the table and play around with the numbers. Want to see what happens if you cut Department of Defense spending in half? Go right ahead.

[You can also access the document here.]

We've also added totals for each column (FY 2010 spending, FY 2011 President's Request, House, etc). Adding the totals lets us keep everything in perspective. For instance, now a quick glance at the table shows that if Congress approved all of the House sub-committee bills as-is, federal discretionary spending would be around $1.278 trillion. That level would be some $6 billion below the President's request, but $37 billion above FY 2010 levels. Sounds like a large jump, but keep in mind that $37 billion is less than 3 percent of the total federal budget.

A large jump would be returning to FY 2008 levels, a proposal put forth this week by House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), and quickly agreed to by House Appropriations Ranking Member Jerry Lewis (R-CA). A jump down, that is. The FY 2008 discretionary level, for those wondering, was around $1.029 billion, close to 25 percent less than the FY 2010 budget. Going back to FY 2008 levels would be like cutting the entire departments of Agriculture, Homeland Security, Interior, Energy, Commerce, Justice, and State. And since Boehner's proposal would exempt security spending from the freeze, all other programs would have to take even larger hits. Essentially, running the federal government in 2011 under 2008 levels would mean a government composed almost entirely by the Defense Department, Social Security, and Medicare. The sad thing is, even with these cuts, which would destroy the government as we know it, Boehner's plan wouldn't even come close to erasing this year's projected deficit.

For a more thorough evisceration of Boehner's proposal, head over to the Center on Budget and Policy Proposals' analysis here.

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