Today, the Republican Study Committee (RSC) released the so-called Spending Reduction Act (SRA). From the introduction:
The Spending Reduction Act of 2011 reduces federal spending by $2.5 trillion over ten years. The bill will specifically hold FY 2011 non-security discretionary spending to FY 08 levels, hold non-defense discretionary spending to FY 06 levels thereafter for the rest of the ten-year budget window (the same level as in effect during the last year of GOP control of the Congress), and include more than 100 other program eliminations or savings proposals, consisting of proposals from the RSC Sunset Caucus, YouCut, or the RSC budget.
Putting aside the simple question as to whether their numbers actually add up to the claimed savings (they don’t, when full impacts are considered) and ignoring systems impacts (which would significantly cut savings), this list demonstrates more allegiance to scoring political points than providing serious paths to addressing the nation’s challenges and a determination to ignore short and long-term societal impacts of their actions.
In addition, the ideological driving of these cuts seems to come with an utter disregard for a simple question that should be at the heart of Congressional action: does a legislative act and/or expenditure work for the better interests of the American people?
Too many of these cuts are to cost effective programs that are helping with social stability and increasing the nations (and Americans’) economic prospects and overall security.
For example, there is this proposed cut:
Department of Energy Grants to States for Weatherization. $530 million annual savings.
Yes, let’s kill that horrid DOE system for giving money to states to help weatherize poor people’s homes to make them more energy efficient and reduce their energy costs (and, well, their pollution). Simply put, study and after study of weatherization programs come to the conclusion (based on significant analysis of much data) that these are cost effective programs to help these low(er)-income households. Of course, that $530 million pays for itself many times over in terms of reduced energy costs and reduced external benefits (such as reduced pollution loads reducing health problems). And, among other things, these programs lead to reduced demand on other government services and — potentially — even might foster lower crime rates due to more financially (and otherwise) secure households. Sigh, weatherization ends up reducing demand for fossil-foolish industries’ products (whether heating oil or coal-fired electricity). They are also one of the tools for using taxpayer resources for strengthening the economic position of the weakest in our society. What does the Senseless Retrenching Act propose? Fossil-foolish moves to exacerbate the economic disparities in the United States.
Not surprisingly, the Department of Energy is a particular target for the Senseless Retrenching Act’s mania for undermining the prospects for America’s future security and prosperity. Proposed cuts include:
- Applied Research at Department of Energy. $1.27 billion annual savings.
- FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership. $200 million annual savings.
- Energy Star Program. $52 million annual savings.
That last, of course, ignores the huge payback that the Energy Star Program provides for the American people. Decades ago, the average U.S. refrigerator gobbled up nearly 2000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year. And, the prognosis was that this number would go up year after year, inexorably. Enter a public-private partnership/working arrangement to set standards and this growth started to get reversed. And, after multiple cycles of revisiting this, American refrigerators (including those ice makers, cold water, quieter motors, etc …) use about 500 kilowatt hours of electricity per year. At the average of 10 cents per kWh, that is $150 per year lower cost for that much higher quality refrigerator. And, by the way, in real terms, the cost to buy the refrigerator hasn’t increased. Of course, refrigerators aren’t the only product touched by the Energy Star program. That “$52 million annual savings” to the Federal budget via cutting the Energy Star program could well lead to $billions (or $10s of billions) of additional costs to American consumers (in many cases, American homeowners … American taxpayers … American citizens).
Going through their list of ‘100 cuts’, one has to wonder whether the RSC has ever heard the phrase: ‘penny wise, pound foolish’.
Posts on the SRA:
- David Roberts with House Republicans seek cuts to Energy Star, weatherization, advanced energy research, puppies “no cuts to fossil-fuel or corn-ethanol subsidies. Indeed, it’s hard to find any cuts that would threaten Republican Party corporate contributors.”
Note: Speaking of fossil foolish, see David Roberts’ perspective with We can’t beat China at cleantech as long as GOP keeps kissing fossil-fuel ass