House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said yesterday that Republicans have done so well in cutting spending that he declared an “ongoing victory,” and said there is simply no fat left to cut in the federal budget.
Mr. DeLay was defending Republicans’ choice to borrow money and add to this year’s expected $331 billion deficit to pay for Hurricane Katrina relief. Some Republicans have said Congress should make cuts in other areas, but Mr. DeLay said that doesn’t seem possible.
“My answer to those that want to offset the spending is sure, bring me the offsets, I’ll be glad to do it. But nobody has been able to come up with any yet,” the Texas Republican told reporters at his weekly briefing.
Asked if that meant the government was running at peak efficiency, Mr. DeLay said, “Yes, after 11 years of Republican majority we’ve pared it down pretty good.”
“This is hardly a well-oiled machine,” said Rep. Jeff Flake, Arizona Republican. “There’s a lot of fat to trim. … I wonder if we’ve been serving in the same Congress.”
American Conservative Union Chairman David A. Keene said federal spending already was “spiraling out of control” before Katrina, and conservatives are “increasingly losing faith in the president and the Republican leadership in Congress.”
“Excluding military and homeland security, American taxpayers have witnessed the largest spending increase under any preceding president and Congress since the Great Depression,” he said.
Mr. Keene said annual nonmilitary and non-homeland security spending increased $303 billion between fiscal year 2001 and 2005; the acknowledged federal debt increased more than $2 trillion since fiscal year 2000; and the 2003 Medicare prescription drug bill is estimated to increase the government’s unfunded obligations by $16 trillion.
CAGW [Citizens Against Government Waste] and the Heritage Foundation also suggest rescinding the 6,000-plus earmarked projects in the recently passed highway bill.
But Mr. DeLay said those projects are “important infrastructure” and eliminating them could undermine the economy as Congress tries to offer hurricane relief.
“It is right to borrow to pay for it,” he said. “But it is not right to attack the very economy that will pay for it.”