The Republican Study Committee, a group of conservative GOP lawmakers, today released their version of the 2007 federal budget, titled "Contract with America: Renewed."
Their budget would cut the deficit by $358 billion over five years, compared with $60 billion in Bush's budget. But as you might imagine, the devil is in the details. Their proposal is a mixture of solid ideas and conservative wet dreams.
Increase defense spending to match Bush's request for 2007. Defense spending shouldn't be sacrosanct, but adequate funding is a must.
Eliminate the Mars initiative and the space shuttle program. The Mars program is great, but not the way it's being funded: by gutting everything else NASA does. If the Mars mission doesn't come with extra money, it should die. The space shuttle needs to be retired, but we should have its replacement in hand before that happens.
Gut foreign aid. This is insane. The war on terror demands more foreign aid spending, not less.
Dept. of Energy. Eliminate federal funding for energy conservation research, and arbitrarily cut the department's size by 35 percent. In an era of high oil prices and searches for alternatives, this makes little sense.
Interior and Agriculture. Arbitrarily cut the size of the Depts. of Interior and Agriculture by 10 percent and impose a wide variety of cuts in environment and natural resource programs, including eliminating the Energy Star program (that logo that lets you know if you're buying an energy-efficient appliance).
Transportation. Eliminate Amtrak and mass transit subsidies and transfer a whole bunch of responsibilities to the states, including railroad safety and regulation and (the biggie) highway construction spending. Eliminate the subsidies that maintain the U.S. merchant marine. Privatize the FAA... Dumping funding on the states merely shifts responsibilities. Maintaining the merchant marine is a security issue. Privatizing the FAA would harm its regulatory function.
Deep cuts in education spending. Eliminate the Reading Is Fundamental program and programs to encourage learning a second language — this at a time when a shortage of foreign-language speakers is hampering our security efforts. Freeze spending for Head Start. Eliminate the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities and cut the Dept. of Education by 30 percent.
Health. Cut National Institute of Health budget by 10 percent, eliminate family planning programs and turn Medicaid and SCHIP into a block-grant program — cutting $36 billion a year from it in the process, largely by capping spending increases without regard to actual need.