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GOP promises to reduce spending by $100B

WASHINGTON - Republicans controlling the House promised yesterday to slash domestic agencies' spending by almost 20 percent in their drive to bring it back to levels in place before President Barack Obama took office.

House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan announced the move as the first salvo in a battle with Obama as they seek to keep a campaign promise to cut $100 billion from domestic programs.

The cuts would bring huge changes to agencies used to budget boosts during Obama's first two years in office. The White House has vowed to fight Republicans, saying their plans could lead to widespread furloughs of federal employees; force vulnerable people off subsidized housing; reduce services in national parks; and slash aid to schools and local police and fire departments.

"Washington's spending spree is over," Ryan (R-Wis.) said. "The spending limits will restore sanity to a broken budget process and return spending for domestic government agencies to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels."

Republicans made a campaign promise to cut $100 billion from Obama's request for domestic agencies like the Department of Education, for the budget year that began in October. But since the year is under way, they're so far falling short, just $58 billion under the plan released yesterday. They promise to try to fully impose the dramatic cuts during what is sure to be a contentious budget debate this year.

The GOP promise was to reduce spending for domestic agencies whose budgets are set by Congress each year back to levels in place under the last budget approved by former President George W. Bush.

Under the original pledge, the Pentagon could have been awarded Obama's proposed 4 percent, $23-billion increase. Instead, the military budget will grow by significantly less when the Appropriations Committee unveils its proposed budget cap, expected to be late last night.

The $100-billion savings figure is measured against Obama's budget request, but the actual savings would be less since Obama's budget boosts were never approved and the government is operating at 2010 levels. Instead, the savings from domestic programs in making the switch from 2010 to 2008 would be about $86 billion, imposing cuts of 19 percent on average.

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