In 1994, the GOP stormed the House with a sweeping policy platform, which it largely failed to enact. In 2010, the GOP storms the House with a simpler message: Cut spending, the end.
The new Republican House majority is planning a series of votes that most newspapers are describing as "symbolic," which is newspaperspeak for "not worth paying much attention to." There are plans to vote on a total repeal of the health care overhaul before the end of the month. There are plans to vote on rescinding, or re-claiming, money allocated by the Recovery Act to high-speed rail. There are plans to cut $25 million from the House operating budget, a five percent cut that will stimulate double-sided printing in committee offices.
These votes won't get past a Democratic Senate and a presidential veto. But the GOP has already succeeded -- in changing the mood in Washington. The baseline assumption on Capitol Hill is that spending cuts must happen. The question is no longer if, but how and when.
White House economic adviser Austan Goolsbee told ABC on Sunday that the president will outline specific budget cuts in his State of the Union speech at the end of the month. Add it to the pile. Obama has already said he will freeze federal government salaries at their current level for two years, shaving an estimated $60 billion off the deficit over the decade. In the days before last year's State of the Union address, the president proposed a three-year spending freeze on most domestic programs. That proposal, if followed through, would save Washington and taxpayers more than $250 billion.