House Democrats pushed back Wednesday against a new GOP initiative to cut spending, pointing to deficits run up when Republicans last controlled Congress.
Democrats said that House Minority Whip Eric Cantor's (R-Va.) new "YouCut" initiative, in which Republicans will force votes on bills to cut spending programs that online voters choose, would actually do very little to cut deficits.
"Congressional Republicans are proposing less than $7 billion in cuts—to offset their nearly half a trillion dollar drug benefit, the trillion dollar war, their billions of dollars in tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, and hundreds of billions of dollars in annual payment on the Bush debt," said Nadeam Elshami, a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
Cantor is rolling out the new proposal with great fanfare on Wednesday, promoting it as a first-of-its-kind interactive project that GOP lawmakers will undertake with constituents. It fits within Republicans' continued emphasis on spending cuts as part of their election year messaging.
"YouCut is an important step to engage the American people in a project designed to transform the culture of spending in Washington into a culture of savings," said Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for Cantor. "Its horrifying that Democrats don't care enough about taxpayers to produce a federal budget, as is their job, but we look forward to Speaker Pelosi's support for YouCut initiatives when Republicans bring them up for a vote."
A spokesman for Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the chairman of Democrats' campaign arm who also serves as an assistant to Pelosi, said it was just another bid at Republican reinvention.
"In the last year and a half, House Republicans have attempted more makeovers than Heidi Montag and Joan Rivers combined," said Van Hollen's spokesman, Doug Thornell. "The GOP credibility on spending is running on empty."
Republicans have promised to force House votes on the programs that supporters want slashed from the budget, which would put some Democrats in a tough spot, especially in an election year.
But Pelosi's office argued that Democrats had already done quite a bit to address deficits over the past year, pointing to the re-establishment of PAYGO rules, and savings and spending reductions in the healthcare reform law they passed earlier this year.
"Minority Whip Eric Cantor will hold a news conference today to talk about the Congressional Republicans and the deficit," Elshami said. "Wouldn’t it be interesting if he and his colleagues actually talked about their record?"
Updated 2:44 p.m.