Five percent in cuts by example
January 6th, 2011
05:11 PM ET
4 years ago

Five percent in cuts by example

Washington (CNN) - The Republicans are looking to lead by example cutting their own office budgets by 5 percent. Rep. John Campbell (R-CA) is one member who's taking the effort to heart by making difficult choices-and he bristles at the suggestion the effort isn't meaningful.

"Outside (of) the entitlement programs, this is how we're going to do this... a bite at a time, finding various departments, various agencies, various places where we can save $10 million, $20 million, $30 million… and start adding (it) up to get the deficit down."


The new Congress voted overwhelmingly Thursday, 410 to 13, to cut its own budget. Critics call the move largely symbolic when comparing the savings estimated to be $35 million dollars to the $3.5 trillion dollar federal budget.

Campbell, a four term Republican, told CNN how he plans to cut his own $1.5 million office budget by $75,000. He has eliminated one position on his staff of 14. The office has a new, cheaper long distance phone carrier, they have canceled some publications, they plan more constituent outreach via email to save on postage and the new Republican congressional work schedule means fewer trips back to his California district.

The congressman, who is a former small businessman himself, says it makes sense for Congress to start with its own budget. "Businesses small and large are having to do more with less, and it's time we in government do more with less."

"Private businesses have been doing this because they're out money," he said. "Guess what, the federal government is out of money. We've been out of money for years. We just print it and borrow it. But we're not going to be able to print it and borrow it without end."

The congressman and his chief of staff have been going over the office budget with a fine tooth comb.

"We have gotten accustomed to getting an increase in our annual budget every year," said Campbell. But he said he has always run a "frugal" office giving back a portion of his budget every year but never as high as 5 percent. "It's not fun, but you're forced to do with less," he said.

Campbell told CNN he thinks the cuts to congressional office budgets should be even deeper than 5 percent but he's not sure his colleagues would go along with that. He confides the 5 percent cuts have spurred some "whining." "But I think the vast majority of people understand that they can do this, and more importantly, that we need to do this."


Filed under: Congress
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. David in Chicago

    The sad fact is that the GOP isn't kidding...they really think we'll see a couple million here and there and go "WOW, way to dig your way out of an avalanche of debt (which they kinda forgot they gave us most of) with a teaspoon.

    Just goes to show you how brainwashed they have their supporters...we have a deficit that's over a TRILLION, which is a THOUSAND BILLION...10 million is 1 TEN THOUSANDTH – of a trillion. That's the same as lowering the price of a gallon of milk ($3.25) by...get this...just over 3 100's of ONE CENT...300x that savings will knock the milk down to $3.24, not $3.25.

    And that's just the deficit, not the total national debt which the millionaires tax cut will add another trillion to.

    And it sells....

    January 6, 2011 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  2. Shari from Madison

    This is a good start, but they need to be more specific about what other budgets are going to be slashed. Are people who work but still need food stamps going to be able to get them, or what will the eligibility change to the point where we as a country allow people to starve. I guess everyone would like more details of what is going to be cut and when. So in this case the republicans are somewhat on the right track with me.

    January 6, 2011 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  3. Four and The Door

    Very respectful of American taxpayers who are out here working hard to pay our nation's bills.

    January 6, 2011 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  4. paul

    5% is a joke – to set an example they should do what private business had to do: Starting with the congressmen all salaried staff take a 10% pay cut and freeze for min 2 years. Increase their share of health care monthly premiums probably from their paltry 20% level to 30-35% and restructure plans for higher co-pays etc to keep costs down. Do away with all other "soft benefits" paid for by taxpayers including free food or subsidized personal services like local commuting transportation, hair cuts, dry cleaning. They can do without the one position so drop it also. Then cut 5-10% from their operating expenses. Lead the way for once.

    January 6, 2011 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  5. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    "Outside (of) the entitlement programs, this is how we're going to do this... a bite at a time, finding various departments, various agencies, various places where we can save $10 million, $20 million, $30 million
    -------------------------------------------------–
    EXCUSE ME LAME-BRAIN COPYCATS but the President has already implemented this approach!
    Give credit where credit is due and stop trying to act as if YOU'VE discovered America.

    Better yet, see if your racist Birther plant( you know, the one that the Capitol Police took away in handcuffs today from the gallows of Congress) can come up with an ORIGINAL idea for you while she contemplates her miserable existence in jail!!

    January 6, 2011 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  6. GonzoinHouston

    "So, sorry about that, paid staffer. I'm firing you, not because of anything you did, but because I want to make a symbolic gesture to the voters that doesn't cost me anything personally. So I get a blurb on CNN.com and you're now unemployed in the worst job market in decades. Have a nice day!"

    They're reading the Constitution, making token gestures, and getting ready to pass a repeal bill that will go nowhere. Are they actually going to attempt to work on anything substantial this year, like maybe a budget or jobs bill?

    January 6, 2011 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  7. EddyL

    I'm sick of these GOP millionaires yapping about "entitlement" programs, meaning Medicare and Social Security. I paid into SS since the 60s. This is NOT an entitlement; I've paid for it and I expect to collect on it.... just like McCain of Arizona. Look elsewhere for your "meaningful" cuts and leave the middle class alone.

    January 6, 2011 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  8. LacrosseMom(real one)

    WOW....... really????????? The Obama administration has already has cut their budget when you compare them to the Bush administration!

    The GOP-baggers........ are not doing anything worthy of praise, in fact they are already backing down from their PROMISE to CUT....... a $100 BILLION from the Budget! Boy........ these clowns will say anything to the poor slobs that voted for them!

    Poor Conservatives, all you folks have done is voted the "good old boys" back into office! Just watch the "same old" happen once again!

    January 6, 2011 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  9. walleye46

    The GOP wants to save 5%. That is the joke of the day. Five percent to the Govt is like me not buying a pack of chewing gum for the year.

    January 6, 2011 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  10. Fed up in Texas

    @Four and the Door – So then, will this pay for the $230B it will cost to repeal the health care bill? Respectful is not a word
    befitting the Republican/Tea Party con artists.

    January 6, 2011 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  11. LacrosseMom(real one)

    PS. Remember how the GOP-Teas promised to cut ........ $100 billion from the budget?????? Remember how upset the GOP-Teas were during the campaign about the frivolous spending in Washington????? Guess what??????

    The GOP's repeal of the Healthcare Bill will COST......... $230...... BILLION! You, Conservatives, continue to buy the lies. Here is some truth for you.

    January 6, 2011 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  12. HOLYCOW

    He has a staff of 14? Explain why he would need more than 5-6 people. Talk about government waste!

    January 6, 2011 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    "Are they actually going to attempt to work on anything substantial this year, like maybe a budget or jobs bill?"

    They don't believe they need to work on a budget. They plan to create a Budget Czar with unilateral authority to decree all budgetary spending levels by using Deem and Pass to give all the authority to Paul Ryan. The only thing open and transparent about the GOP is their political avarice.

    January 6, 2011 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  14. they call me "tater salad"

    Posturing is all this is..........That 5% crap isn't going to amount to squat in 2 years when all of the beans are counted........They know that better than anyone...........This is a shining example of what those in Washington like to call "political theater" to fool the ignorant masses that were born with a natural fear of books and too lazy and mentally challenged to do any actual research.

    January 6, 2011 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  15. dwayne

    Republicans FAILED already.

    January 6, 2011 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  16. dwayne

    Republicans trash campaign promises; Tea party red faced.

    January 6, 2011 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  17. dwayne

    Christian republicans plan to destroy health care and social security for poor people. Even though the CBO A nonpartisan agency: States that the Health-care reform bill cuts deficit by $1.3 trillion over 20 years. Republicans need tax cuts for billionaires and increased deficit; I guess.

    January 6, 2011 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  18. David

    President has already been doing this, nothing new here and far from the serious action needed if you truly want to tackle the debt (of course this debt thing has been over politicized for your own political gain and things aren't as dire as the GOP and the media is making it out to be.)

    January 6, 2011 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  19. Frank in Valparaiso Indiana

    Local yokels still think you can build a high school for a hundred thousand or so, not the $40 million in the bond issue. No idea what the numbers are and how they compare. Same with 'don't we have a lottery, why are my property taxes going up?'. Want to cut the deficit?? Put a tax on the wealthy. Get it up to 50 or 60%. Most of the uber rich make it on spinning money on Wall Street, tax that also, individuals, make it 40% over say $500k a year, and that is a lot of income from Wall Street. The GOP has had government make the rich richer. That skrews the country

    January 6, 2011 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  20. Reynald

    cut your salaries by 5% instead

    January 6, 2011 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  21. T'sah from Virginia

    5% of 14 Trillion = 0!! This is ONLY a way to continue to FOOL those who can be easily be FOOLED!!!!! The American people already know that "cutting spending" will only be a DROP in the BUCKET – We know this!!!

    January 6, 2011 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  22. once upon a horse

    why not start with salaries? Heck a majority of the upper members of Congress are millionaries anyway. They have enough outsiders sticking money in their pockets to take paycuts. Even the president could take a paycut....does Obama really need to make 400 grand a year? Lead by example.

    January 6, 2011 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  23. patty

    So another person joins the unemployment line and someone else gets to do the work of two. Nice going.

    January 6, 2011 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  24. Debbie from Arizona

    If they really want to cut spending, each and every one of the Congressmen/Congresswomen and every Senator should take a 10% across the board cut in salary. Heaven forbid that they should actually feel any of the pain they are inflicting on the rest of us Americans. I guess you do have to start somewhere, but this is a joke.

    January 6, 2011 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  25. CAW in MD

    @Four and the door - no, it's not respectful of the average American taxpayer; it's a slap in the face. This kind of symbolic crap is a waste of time, especially when these so-called fiscal conservatives can't muster the gonads to have an adult conversation with the American people about a specific plan for what they want to cut. Even the $100 billion dollar number, while at least beyond symbolic, is less than 10% of the deficit. If they can find a trillion dollars, then perhaps the American people will take them seriously. Not until.

    January 6, 2011 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
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