The State of the Union speech to be delivered this (Tuesday) evening by President Obama is likely to call for a couple of things aimed at the budget.
First, he’ll join Republicans in calling for an end to earmarks.
Second, he’ll call for a five-year spending freeze on non-security discretionary spending.
On the second point, “The problem there is you’re talking about 13 percent of the federal budget,” said George Behan, spokesman for U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair.
Dicks’ position of leadership even though he is again in the minority party is spelled out pretty well in a (Tacoma) News Tribune story by McClatchy Washington Bureau reporter Rob Hotakainen.
The story also references the call for no earmarks and the problems locally (think Port Orchard) that presents.
“I (Dicks) may have done it,” he said in an interview in his office on Capitol Hill last week. “I’ve been here 34 years. I may have done the best I can.”
Behan said Dicks takes issue with the president’s apparent willingness to leave defense out of the spending cut picture. Dicks gave a speech on the House floor Tuesday (The video appears below.) referencing $78 billion in defense cuts recommended by Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
Behan said that in times like these, Dicks believes cuts need to be made everywhere. “He’s as strong as anybody on defense but he doesn’t believe you should exempt the Pentagon,” Behan said.
Incidentally, Dicks still doesn’t have a copy of the president’s speech, late by Washington standards. An excerpt of the Republican response to the speech has been posted on Facebook.
Non-discretionary spending is far and away the big chunk of the federal budget, items in defense, Medicare and Social Security. An overall freeze of spending would cap all spending at whatever it is this year, but the federal government would have a tough time doing that, because spending on defense, Medicare and Social Security go up every year just by maintaining the same level of service. That’s why a freeze is essentially a cut. Cutting non-discretionary spending is harder to do, Behan said.
Also part of the president’s speech tonight is . U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island, spoke to that this morning on the floor of the House.
“As we’re coming out of this very deep recession, many of us believe that one of the brightest spots on our economic horizon is our ability to develop hundreds of thousands of new jobs in this country, so that America can fulfill its detiny of leading the world in clean energy development.”
The entire speech follows, as does the one from Dicks.