Defense, Security Budget Winners; Some Agencies See Spending Cuts
Byline: Amy Fagan, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
President Bush's 2005 budget proposes less discretionary funding for the Agriculture Department and the Environmental Protection Agency, among others, while giving big boosts to defense and homeland security spending.
Overall, the budget reduces discretionary funding for seven of the 16 Cabinet-level agencies, in order to hold non-defense and non-homeland security spending to less than a 1 percent increase.
"This is a lean budget when it comes to domestic spending," said Stephen Moore, president of the Club for Growth. "The problem is that without any enforcement, it becomes truly just a paper tiger."
It does cut some programs the administration says were wasteful or ineffective, including the Housing and Urban Development Department's Hope IV program, which was charged with revitalizing severely distressed public housing. The administration said the program was slow at completing its job and more costly than other alternatives.
"Most agencies would feel a freeze or slight decrease under the president's budget," said Brian M. Riedl, federal budget analyst at the Heritage Foundation, one of several conservative groups that have criticized the administration for spending at twice the rate of its predecessors.
Mr. Moore said the real test of the budget will be whether Mr. Bush will "be the enforcer," and veto any spending bill that exceeds the limits he has set - something he hasn't done in the past.
"This White House has shown that it's willing to talk the talk on fiscal restraint, but they haven't walked the walk," Mr. Moore said.
As a way to step up enforcement, Mr. Bush proposes in his budget legislation that would mandate limits.
Mr. Riedl said he isn't sure this will pass Congress, but chances are "better" than last year because more lawmakers want such reform.
The first real test for Mr. Bush - which conservative budget analysts will watch closely - will come on a transportation bill that Congress will deal with soon. The president proposes $256 billion over six years for improving highways and transit systems, but the House bill is about $375 billion and the Senate equivalent is more than $300 billion as well, a House Republican aide said. …