The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Politics

March 28, 2013

The 80,000-Plus Budget-Cutting Ideas That Got Away

(Continued)

ALLENWOOD —

Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., was assigned to write legislation that would cut $380 million in loan guarantees to clean-energy companies. But nothing happened with that suggested cut, because Kelly never wrote a bill. He got distracted.

"It was a priority, and it remains an issue of interest. But Mike's efforts shifted when he chose to focus more on holding the administration accountable with regards to [Operation] Fast and Furious. And then when the Benghazi tragedy occurred, that took the cake," said Kelly's spokesman, Tom Qualtere. Now that Congress is in a new session, Qualtere said Kelly might introduce the bill at last.

Or maybe not.

"Now there are even more priorities and actions that he's personally leading — such as the march against the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty,'' Qualtere said. "So it's up in the air."

In the end, two YouCut ideas did become law — both wrapped up in larger bills. One of those cut money that was intended for high-speed-rail lines: The GOP estimated it would save $3.8 billion. The other cut back those payments for abandoned mine lands, saving an estimated $702 million over 10 years.

The rest died when the last Congress ended. Twelve of them had made it to the Democrat-led Senate. The other 24 did not get out of the Republican House.

"The purpose of the YouCut program was to change the culture of Washington," Rory Cooper, a spokesman for Cantor, said in an email message. "Today, as is evident to anyone paying attention, that culture has been changed."

Today, YouCut appears to be dead. No new votes have been held in the current Congress. Cantor's spokespersons did not respond to questions about the program's status this week.

And the YouCut website still offers viewers a vote from the last Congress. One choice would have cut contributions to the United Nations. One would end purchases of high-end chairs for federal offices. And one would terminate Environmental Protection Agency grants for community organizing.

Together, the site says, they might have saved the country $15 billion.

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