FY 2012 budget countdown continues

Wednesday - 2/9/2011, 10:31am EST

Erik Wasson, budget reporter, The Hill

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By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

The FY 2012 budget will be released next Monday by the Obama administration.

Republicans have already released ideas for spending cuts starting with FY 2011 spending and Office of Management and Budget director Jacob Lew outlined some $775 million in cuts for FY 2012 over the weekend.

Erik Wasson, a budget reporter for The Hill, told Federal News Radio to expect an overall five year spending freeze and a bolstering of spending on innovation, infrastructure and education.

"Now that's just the President's opening gambit," said Wasson and to expect Republicans to call for more cuts.

In the meantime, Wasson, asked about the possibility of a continuing resolution to be passed to fund the government for the rest of this fiscal year, said "I think almost nil." Wasson pointed out that Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii) has already said they'll need to pass a series of short term funding measures to get through March to "hammer out negotiations."

That's not to say the Republicans will definitely be willing to shut down the government, especially if entitlement spending is any clue.

Wasson said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) "said there will be no entitlement reform unless the President moves first. I think there's a sense among Republicans, learning lessons from the lessons of the 1990s, budget showdowns, that the President has to come out and say 'I want Social Security reform, to be made solvent and here I'm willing to sit down,' rather than have Republicans move on that first because Republicans realize that Democrats would likely immediately pounce on them."

Wasson said the real litmus test when it comes to cutting spending is coming up.

Next week, at the same time as the President's budget's coming out on Monday, we're also going to see a vote on the House floor on very early in the week on the 2011 fundings bill. The House Appropriations Committee will release it on Thursday, There will be a lot of discussion very quickly on what the exact cuts are going to be, and then we're going to see it go to the floor.

Now (when) it goes to the floor, the Republican Study Committee, which is 176 very conservative Republicans, have pledged to offer a floor amendment. Now that would cut at least $100 billion dollars instead of, you know, $58 billion dollars in discretionary spending cuts. And if that succeeds, I think it really shows to all of us, and also to Speaker (of the House John A.) Boehner (R - Ohio) how serious his members are about cutting. When that goes over to the Senate, it's anyone's guess how it's going to come out, but I'm pretty sure the Senate won't accept that level of cuts at all.