The Post's assertion that "This year House Republicans have contributed nothing of note to the budget" (editorial, Aug. 3) simply is not factual. The editorial notes, "What is surprising is that the House Republicans seem to have lost the vitality and originality that, before this spring, made them a distinctive and consequential part of political Washington."
That assessment is surprising to the 92 Group, an organization of moderate House Republicans. We fail to see how our participation in the budget process this year is in any way indicative of a loss of vitality or originality. As a matter of fact, an examination of the budget process and the 92 Group's involvement shows precisely the opposite.
Far from contributing, as the editorial puts it, "nothing of note to the budget debate," it was the Republican 92 Group budget, a "Blueprint for Balance," that was the first budget to be introduced in the House, and the only budget to comply with the deadline established in the Budget Act of 1974.
The 92 Group budget proposal consisted of a freeze, practically speaking, on all federal spending at the fiscal year 1985 levels while allowing Social Security benefits to grow with inflation. The proposal also called for additional savings beyond a freeze through carefully developed and extensively debated reforms in more than 75 federal programs. The 92 Group proposal was developed by the group's task force on the budget, which met at least once and sometimes twice a week beginning in January and continuing for four months.
Our plan would have reduced the deficit by $50.9 billion in fiscal year 1986, outlay savings that were analyzed and confirmed by the Congressional Budget Office. Every policy recommendation and savings estimate was carefully examined by CBO over the four- month period to ensure that proposed savings were real and attainable. Estimated outlay savings were conservative to ensure credibility.
The 92 Group budget proposal was the only budget plan to undergo such rigorous analysis every step of the way. Scrutiny of the House Budget Committee product shows numerous instances in which identical policy recommendations claim greater budget "savings" than the 92 Group proposal because our savings projections were certified by CBO. Yet we still attained a solid $50.9 billion in savings.
The over-$50 billion deficit reduction contained in the 92 Group budget proposal is a much more significant figure than the one produced by House-Senate conferees. Although they claim their plan saves $56 billion, analysts have variously estimated its actual attainable savings at $25 billion to $45 billion. These estimates come as no surprise to us. In fact, through several analyses and in floor debate, we pointed out in May that the resolution from the Democrats on the House Budget Committe did not contain savings that would produce $56 billion in deficit reductions.
The assertion in The Post's editorial that "House Republicans are not even players" also is not borne out by the facts. Not only have we been players, but we have been managers of the effort to reduce federal spending as well. Budget efforts are necessary. But we must remember that they produce only a budget -- only a guideline. We, as House Republicans, went beyond that.
Given the inability of the conferees to produce a budget resolution, the 92 Group began the bipartisan freeze movement. Without a budget, the only way to achieve any savings back in April, when the authorization bills began to hit the floor, was to freeze spending at fiscal year 1985 levels. (A freeze nets only about $30 billion in savings.) That freeze effort has met with overwhelming success. Our leadership has resulted in savings in the authorization process alone of over $10 billion thus far. It's easy to talk of saving money through cutting federal spending, especially in the context of debate on a budget resolution. But we began the direct action -- amendments to authorization and appropriations bills -- necessary to reduce the deficit.
In the appropriations process, the leadership of House Republicans to freeze Fiscal Year 1986 spending at fiscal year 1985 levels is equally apparent. Of 13 "freeze" votes thus far in consideration of appropriations bills on the floor of the House, more than half of the Republican members of Congress have voted for a freeze more than nine times -- more than 70 percent of the time. Only 5 percent of House Democrats have voted nine or more times in favor of appropriations freezes.
The goal of the 92 Group is to put forth ideas and effect policies that our party and the House will view as thoughtful solutions to problems confronting the 99th Congress. Our actions on the budget and in the freeze effort have been a strong first step toward our objective of presenting policy options that prove the ability of Republicans to govern effectively as the future majority party in the U.S. House of Representatives.