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Tea party austerity plan: Would slashing US spending work?

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That depends on what the ultimate goal is, and whom you ask.

To fiscal hawk Rep. Paul Ryan, who gave the Republican response to the State of the Union on Tuesday, the nearly $2 trillion in US spending to stimulate the economy yielded only a weak recovery and added to the national debt. Moreover, he and many tea party activists say, taxation, debt, and regulation – including the new health-care reform law – create uncertainties in the investment markets that inhibit investment and private-sector job creation.

"It's no coincidence that trust in government is at an all-time low when the size of government is at an all-time high," Mr. Ryan, who chairs the House Budget Committee, said Tuesday. The Republican Study Committee plan to chop $2.5 trillion off of federal spending "is not just about programs of government, but purpose of government," he said.

The plan calls for across-the-board cuts, dialing back agency spending to 2008 levels for this fiscal year, and 2006 levels after that. It also would end government subsidies for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Amtrak, among many others.

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