“What are you going to cut? ‘’   


As Kathryn Lopez points out on The Corner today, asking this question has become something of a Washington parlor game. It’s supposed to be a trick question: No politician in his right mind would answer it. Who can lay out significant cuts and not alienate some important constituency?


Well, Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio and Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina are daring to make a public announcement answering the question. They have a list of cuts that they say will save the American taxpayer $2.5 trillion over ten years. As Paul Bedard of US News & World Report notes:



Gone would be Amtrak subsidies, fat checks to the Legal Services Corporation and National Endowment for the Arts, and some $900 million to run President Obama’s healthcare reform program.



What’s more, the “Spending Reduction Act of 2011” proposed by members of the conservative Republican Study Committee, chaired by Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, would reduce current spending for non-defense, non-homeland security and non-veterans programs to 2008 levels, eliminate federal control of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, cut the federal workforce by 15 percent through attrition, and cut some $80 billion by blocking implementation of Obamacare.


I am a longtime Amtrak user. Shouldn’t I be screaming bloody murder? Absolutely not. If Amtrak operated only profitable lines, not ones because some congressman wants a train station in the district, it might turn a profit. If it were a business, employees would very likely be less surly about opening the café car before Baltimore on the Washington-New York run. But I’m willing to make a modest wager that Amtrak, properly run, could turn a profit.If it couldn’t make a go of it, people like me would find themselves on the Chinatown bus.


Savings on Amtrak subsidies: $1.565 billion yearly. To update Everett Dirksen’s famous apercu, a billion here and a billion there, and pretty soon, you’re talking about real money.


But, golly, I’m not so sure about eliminating those mohair subsidies. Isn’t that going too far?