January 27, 2011; Source: Republican Study Committee | The Republican Study Committee released the Spending Reduction Act of 2011 last week that would return federal spending to 2008 levels. The committee intends to slash $2.5 trillion from the federal budget over the next decade.
The RSC is the conservative caucus of the U.S. House of Representatives. Led by Ohio's Jim Jordan, but long associated with potential presidential candidate Mike Pence of Indiana, the RSC is introduces the Spending Reduction Act as a shot across the bow of Congress, announcing the serious intent of Republicans to take aim at the federal budget deficit by cutting the guts out of the social programs long delivered by the nonprofit sector. The RSC bill includes the following:
- Eliminate all remaining unspent stimulus funding ($45b);
- Eliminate the Corporation for Public Broadcasting ($445m);
- Eliminate the Legal Services Corporation – funding for 137 LSC programs in 918 offices ($420m);
- Eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts – RSC: "Support for the arts can easily be supported by state and local governments and private donations" ($167.5m);
- Eliminate the National Endowment for the Humanities ($167.5m);
- Eliminate the HOPE VI program that rebuilds public housing – RSC: "[despite the fact that] it has demolished 96,200 housing units and produced 107,800 new or revitalized units . . . Hope VI has completed its goal of contributing to the demolition of 100,000 severely distressed public housing units . . . the program is more costly than other programs that serve the same population" ($250m);
- Eliminate the "Community Development Fund" – basically, the Community Development Block Grant program, though the RSC directs specific animus toward HUD's Sustainable Communities Initiative, which it contends, would "have the federal government get involved in local land use planning decisions" ($4.5b);
- Eliminate grants to states for weatherization – citing the rate of spending on weatherization in the stimulus, the RSC contends that this would "prevent throwing good money after bad" ($56m);
- Eliminate major programs of the U.S. Agency for International Development – RSC: "there is little evidence that . . . traditional foreign aid actually works, while there is a wealth of evidence that the best path to prosperity is developing the kinds of institutions necessary for a free market economy" ($1.39b);
- Eliminate taxpayer subsidies to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ($12.5m);
Most significantly for NPQ readers, the RSC calls for saving $1.15 billion by eliminating many programs authorized under the National and Community Service Act, explaining that the "funding to several volunteering programs . . . [is] an inefficient and expansive way of helping individuals pay for college . . . Since individuals receive compensation for participating, the program greatly stretches the definition of 'volunteer.'"
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At the risk of eating one's words, there's not a prayer that the entire bill could pass. Even conservative Republicans would be deterred by their local constituents protesting against the elimination of CDBG for example, not to mention the scads of other programs in the draft bill.
But given the new move for bipartisan handholding and comity plus often thin Democratic support for some of these programs (LSC for example), this anti-nonprofit agenda could well pop up in pieces throughout the 112th Congress. Nonprofits should be forewarned and forearmed.—Rick Cohen