House GOP conservatives set to unveil $2.5 trillion in deep spending cuts

A number of the House GOP’s leading conservative members on Thursday will announce legislation that would cut $2.5 trillion over 10 years, which will be by far the most ambitious and far-reaching proposal by the new majority to cut federal government spending.

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, will unveil the bill in a speech at the Heritage Foundation on Thursday morning.

Jordan’s bill, which will have a companion bill introduced in the Senate by Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican, would impose deep and broad cuts across the federal government. It includes both budget-wide cuts on non-defense discretionary spending back to 2006 levels and proposes the elimination or drastic reduction of more than 50 government programs.

Jordan’s “Spending Reduction Act” would eliminate such things as the U.S. Agency for International Development and its $1.39 billion annual budget, the $445 million annual subsidy for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the $1.5 billion annual subsidy for Amtrak, $2.5 billion in high speed rail grants, the $150 million subsidy for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, and it would cut in half to $7.5 billion the federal travel budget.

But the program eliminations and reductions would account for only $330 billion of the $2.5 trillion in cuts. The bulk of the cuts would come from returning non-defense discretionary spending – which is currently $670 billion out of a $3.8 trillion budget for the 2011 fiscal year – to the 2006 level of $496.7 billion, through 2021.

Going back to 2006 levels would reduce spending by $2.3 trillion over ten years. It is a significantly more drastic cut than the one proposed by House Republican leadership in the Pledge to America last fall, which proposed moving non-defense, non-mandatory spending for the current fiscal year back to 2008 levels, which was $522.3 billion. Jordan’s proposal includes the recommendation from the Pledge for the current fiscal year, which ends in September.

The proposal would cut the federal work force by 15 percent and freeze automatic pay raises for government employees for five years.

The RSC boasts a membership of 165 members out of 242 total House Republicans. Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican, is a member, as is House GOP Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling, Texas Republican, and Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam, Illinois Republican.

None of the three chose to comment on the proposal when asked about it through spokesmen on Wednesday.

It was not clear Wednesday whether the bill would be pushed hard by leadership, though the prospect seemed unlikely, at least for the moment. Cuts of such magnitude will undoubtedly come under heavy fire from Democrats and liberal interest groups, and Speaker John Boehner has for the most part avoided specific stands on spending cuts, seeking to minimize exposure to attacks from the opposition.

President Obama, in addition, will have the chance in next week’s State of the Union address to speak to a national audience about the country’s fiscal situation, and could point to such cuts as too costly to services for many Americans.

Even if Boehner, Ohio Republican, got behind the cuts and the House passed such legislation, it would face a steep challenge to passage in the Senate, which is still controlled by Democrats. And Obama – who has said he believes that cuts could hinder economic recovery if they are too draconian in the short term – is unlikely to support such a dramatic move to pull back on spending.