Neither party ready for steep spending cuts, says Rep. Campbell

Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.), one of three Republicans to vote against the FY 2011 spending bill because it did not cut enough spending, says the dozens of floor votes on amendments to the bill last week show that neither Republicans nor Democrats are ready to reduce spending significantly.

"The details of the debate and votes on the amendments shed some light on why I fear that, even after the 2010 elections, the enormous inertia of Congress to spend has not yet been overcome," Campbell wrote in a "Laptop Report" Sunday posted on his website. "I think America is ready to do what is necessary to avoid national fiscal collapse and calamity. But, I'm not sure Congress is there yet."

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Campbell's vote against the bill says plenty about his disappointment with the Republican bill — he wrote that he "thought there might have been a few more to join our little band of rebels" — but his report went further. He singled out House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) for blocking many proposals to cut further.

"The Republican Chairman of the Appropriations Committee (Hal Rogers, R-KY) opposed 17 of the first 18 amendments that reduced spending," Campbell wrote. "All 17 he opposed lost."

Campbell said the defeat of the first amendment, to cut $18.75 million from the Defense Department, was a "seminal moment" in the process. Campbell noted that this was a cost reduction "suggested by the Secretary of Defense. But, no, we will make them spend the additional $18 million."

He also noted that roughly 40 percent of Republicans voted against a measure he co-sponsored that would have cut spending to 2008 levels.

On the other side, Campbell said he was "disappointed" that no Democrats voted for the bill.

"The cuts are not that deep and I would have thought that a few of the remaining 'blue dogs' who often speak about fiscal sanity would have voted yes," he said.

For all of these reasons, Campbell said he feels a sense of "profound melancholy," especially given that the Democratic Senate has been hostile to the Republican spending measure.

"I could go on, but it will only depress me more to relive it all," he said. "Now, the bill goes to the Senate where it will only get worse. The road from here is uncertain and will be played out over the next few months as we encounter deadlines and debt limits and such."