Republicans unveil YouCut II, now with real legislative power

Republicans will unveil Wednesday YouCut, the sequel, their newly-improved crowd-sourced spending cuts program that allows Americans to vote online for which bloated bureaucracy ought to get the ax.

Now, the stakes are real. The “winning” government program each week will more than likely actually get a House vote to cut its funding, sending the proposal over to the Senate, where Republicans hope public participation will spur action there.

“The biggest difference will be we’ll actually get a chance to get ’em passed,” freshman GOP Rep. Mick Mulvaney, one of three freshman hand-picked by Majority Leader Eric Cantor to coordinate the program, told The Daily Caller.

Cantor is handing over YouCut to the freshmen, giving them a place to channel the Tea Party energy that swept Republicans into power. Highlighting government’s embarrassing excesses could also give the GOP political momentum at key moments in the more important debt ceiling and appropriations debates.

Mulvaney of South Carolina, freshman class president Austin Scott of Georgia and Renee Ellmers of North Carolina are in charge. Each week they’ll coordinate which freshmen representative gets to choose three government programs from which online voters will decide what they’d like to see cut.

Voting lasts a week, unless Congress is in recess, and the freshman congressman choosing the programs to be voted on will introduce the legislation that would cut its funding.

Republicans also hope a revamped website that allows users to track the progress of each YouCut-inspired bill through Congress will attract participation, though even in the last Congress it was robust, with an average of 500,000 votes each round. This time Republicans would like to get 1 million votes each round.

“This updated version builds upon the success of the original YouCut program by allowing Americans to vote on a spending cut, and track the legislation in real-time, from introduction by a member of our freshman class, through the committee process, to a floor vote and ideally to enactment,” Cantor said.

Mulvaney, Scott and Ellmers said their hope is that by giving the public such an active role, they’ll transform the political discussion into focusing more on cuts.

In that sense, it’s less important what the dollar figure is for the total spending cuts.

“Success for YouCut II has really got more to do with the public participation and having them engage in the process of reducing federal spending, duplicative programs, and things that the federal government shouldn’t be spending money on … that is as important if not more important as the total dollar figure of the cuts,” Scott said.

“Changing minds is the most difficult thing of all,” Ellmers said, “we’ve changed the conversation here in Washington for week after week to conversation about cuts. Even our president is talking about cuts!”

When Cantor introduced YouCut in the last Congress, Republicans used their few-and-far between opportunities to force votes on the House floor on cutting some of the programs online voters thought should go.

Then, Democrats said it was just a “gimmick” because the amount of the cuts are tiny compared to the federal budget.

Or, as Mulvaney put it, “if you came in tomorrow with some program that saved $1.6 million, and that was our YouCut thing for the week, you would have to do that a million times just to balance the budget.”

“Well, that’s fine. Lets get started,” Scott said, “We didn’t get into this situation overnight. And we’re not gonna get out of it overnight. Nobody’s gonna wave a magic wand one night and we’re gonna wake up tomorrow and everything’s gonna be OK fiscally.”