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Taxpayers Tab Issue #19

June 14, 2011



Vol. 2 Issue 19 June 14, 2011


NTUF Study Examines the First 100 Days of the Republican Majority in the House

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new_congressHave hard-charging Members of the new House of Representatives brought a big enough axe to chop the federal deficit and debt down to size? The National Taxpayers Union Foundation’s (NTUF’s) BillTally report on legislation proposed during the first 100 days of the 112th Congress has some surprising answers.

“BillTally data so far confirms that after being let out of the woodshed by the electorate, the new House majority remembered to bring an axe to the budget debate,” said NTUF Senior Policy Analyst and BillTally Project Director Demian Brady. “However, the proportions of the task facing them may in fact warrant a chainsaw.”

According to Brady, NTUF’s special 100-Day BillTally report shows that indeed the GOP-controlled House of Representatives has proposed even more spending reductions (in total dollars adjusted for inflation) than the “revolutionary” 104th Congress led by Newt Gingrich. Yet, these cuts would only erase less than one-fifth of this year’s budget shortfall, compared to roughly three-fourths of the 1995 deficit that legislation introduced in the 104th Congress would have slashed.ntuf_pp169_001

Some of the study's key findings include:

  • Over the first 100 session days of the 112th Congress, the net result should all non-overlapping proposed legislation pass would be $153 billion in spending cuts.
  • Republicans have led a surge in the amount of budget reductions proposed. The average Republican sought $63 billion in net savings, a turnaround from an agenda of $1.6 billion in net increases in early 2009.
  • Tea Party throws more spending overboard than any other caucus. The $99.1 billion in average spending reductions proposed by the Tea Party Caucus was enough to best even the Republican Study Committee, which came in at $74.5 billion.
  • Blue Dog Democrats proposed $3.3 billion in spending increases despite taking major casualties in 2010.
  • Individually, most Members show surprisingly little initiative. Even though GOP Leaders claim all their Members are aggressively seeking spending restraint, a typical House Republican still supported just five of the 58 savings bills introduced.

Compared to the last Congress, taxpayers who support spending restraint can see an improvement. On average, Members are supporting more cuts and fewer spending increases. While, they have taken initial steps to fulfill campaign promises on spending -- they have not taken as significant a chunk out of the federal budget as we saw from the 104th Congress.

Yet, because of a proportionally worse budget outlook, the proposed savings do not go far enough to tackle the deficit, tame the debt, and restore balance. This Congress is operating in a fiscal environment in which: government spending comprises the highest percentage of the economy we've seen since World War II, 43 cents of every dollar of that spending is borrowed, the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling has been breached, and the Obama Administration is asking for permission to borrow about $2 trillion more to float the government through the next year and half.

In his run for office, President Barack Obama characterized his opponent Senator John McCain's approach to cutting the budget as bringing a hatchet to a job where a scalpel would be sufficient. The President has now had two years to go through the budget with his scalpel and the results are in: a few small scale savings have been achieved, but meanwhile, it seems that nearly every other part of the budget is growing uncontrolled. Clearly, a "scalpel" approach has been insufficient to tame the deficit.

The Republicans in the House have returned "from the woodshed," but so far it seems they may not have brought enough tools with them to cut the budget back to balance. They may have to go back to the woodshed for a bigger axe.

About NTUF

The National Taxpayers Union Foundation is a research and educational organization dedicated solely to helping citizens of all generations understand how tax policies, spending programs, and regulations at all levels affect them now and in the future. Through NTUF's timely information, analysis, and commentary, we're empowering citizens to actively engage in the fiscal policy debate and hold public officials accountable every day.

NTUF is a 501(c)(3) research and education organization. Donations are deductible for personal income tax purposes. Please make a donation today to help further NTUF's mission of research and education!

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to aid or hinder the passage of any legislation or as a comment on any Member's fitness to serve. Cosponsor information obtained from