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The $100 billion in cuts that don't exist

From NBC's Luke Russert
At a press conference this morning on Capitol Hill, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) claimed that House Republicans would trim $100 billion dollars from the budget for the rest of the fiscal year.

"As part of our effort to liberate our economy from the shackles of out of control spending," Boehner said, "the House will soon vote to cut discretionary spending by over $100 billion dollars over the last seven months of this fiscal year.”

When pressed by NBC News if the House GOP intends to cut $100 billion dollars from the budget that the nation’s government is currently operating under, Boehner said, "We're going to cut $100 billion dollars based on the budget the President submitted."

Yet, President Obama’s submitted budget for fiscal year 2011 was never voted on by Congress and thus never approved. It does not exist as a governing number.

Why?

Then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) became the first Speaker in the modern era to not pass a budget since the 1974 Budget Act was implemented in Congress. Due to Democrats' inability to pass a budget for fiscal year 2011, the government currently operates under a series of continuing resolutions which operate under fiscal year 2010 levels.

Boehner’s claim that House Republicans will cut $100 billion from the budget for the rest of fiscal year 2011 is dubious at best. In their “Pledge to America,” House Republicans said they would lower spending in their first year by $100 billion dollars and return to fiscal year 2008 levels or “pre-bailout and pre-Obama levels.”

Currently, House Republicans are working towards cutting around $60 billion dollars from the current budget for fiscal year 2011.

Originally, the House GOP introduced a budget that would cut $32 billion dollars for fiscal year 2011. By cutting $32 billion, Republicans would have spent out the rest of fiscal year 2011 at fiscal year 2008 levels.

That number was deemed too low by Tea Party and conservative House members.  By increasing the cuts to $60 billion, Republicans spend out the government in fiscal year 2011 at a lower rate than fiscal year 2008. Thus, Republicans not only honor their 'pledge' but also double the amount of money they are going to cut. All that being said, they are not cutting $100 billion dollars in real money for the rest of fiscal year 2011.

GOP aides tell NBC News that the $100 billion dollar number is symbolically important to conservative House Republicans and that straying publicly from that number would upset a base of voting support that has become increasingly hawkish on fiscal issues. For this reason the Speaker and others in the House GOP Leadership stick to script, saying they’ll cut $100 billion dollars from the budget. It sounds better than saying “we’re going to save you 50% more than fiscal year 2008 levels.”