House Conservatives Prepare Austere Alternative Budget
By CARL HULSE
Published: March 7, 2006
WASHINGTON, March 6 — With Congress heading into a politically perilous budget season, influential House conservatives plan this week to propose an austere alternative spending plan that would pare more than $650 billion over five years, balance the budget and drastically shrink three cabinet agencies.
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Doug Mills/The New York Times
President Bush in Washington Monday with Edward P. Lazear, who was sworn in as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.
The legislation, part of a push by some Republicans to re-establish themselves as champions of fiscal restraint, was taking shape as President Bush struck a similar theme on Monday by asking Congress to grant him line-item veto power to eliminate federal spending that he might judge wasteful.
"We can't be all things to all people when it comes to spending the taxpayers' money," Mr. Bush said at a ceremony installing a new chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.
But House conservative leaders would go far beyond the president's own budget proposal, illustrating the difficulty the White House and the Republican leadership have had in persuading the caucus to speak with one voice on the matter.
Senior aides say the conservatives' plan would wring about $350 billion from Medicare, Medicaid and other social programs and save $300 billion partly through a major reorganization of the Education, Commerce and Energy Departments.
"We are putting our money where our mouth is," said one of the officials, who would discuss the proposal only without being identified because it was still being prepared for release Wednesday by leaders of the Republican Study Committee.
There's no excuse for defecit spending on this level. None. Kudos to Mike Pence and the rest of them for stepping up to the plate. As for President Bush's comments, I'll believe it when I see it. He has a veto pen, and it's time for him to use it if a spending bill is unacceptable.
There will be more on this soon. Stay tuned.