WASHINGTON — WONDER who the big spenders are in Congress? Look first at the Hawaiian delegation, which proposed an average spending increase last year of $422 billion, while cutting only $420 million - a 1,000-to-1 ratio of spending increases over decreases.
Wonder who's trying to save federal dollars? Look first at freshmen members, such as Rep. Jennifer Dunn (R) of Washington, who proposed cutting government outlays by a net $27 billion.
The National Taxpayers Union (NTU), in a member-by-member analysis of 1993 spending proposals on Capitol Hill, says the number of bills to increase spending outnumbers bills to make cuts by 3.6-to-1.
Yet NTU sees a glimmer of hope for budget-cutters. Among newer members - those in their first and second terms - NTU found a fast-growing trend to shave the budget.
NTU analysts say taxpayer anger over federal spending apparently has changed sentiment somewhat on Capitol Hill.
In the previous Congress, only 15 out of 535 members (3 percent) sponsored bills which, on balance, would have cut federal spending.
In the current Congress, 209 senators and representatives (39 percent) pushed a budget-cutting agenda.
Example: Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) of Texas, a freshman, sponsored proposals that would have boosted spending by $5.7 billion, while supporting others that would have trimmed outlays by $29.7 billion - for a net reduction of $24 billion.
Example: Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) of New Jersey wanted spending hikes of $13.7 billion for certain bills, but spending cuts of $45.4 billion for others, or a net cut of $31.7 billion.
Even so, NTU remains cautious. ``Congress is unlikely to balance the budget any time soon,'' the NTU report concluded. One reason: Most proposals to cut spending are across-the-board measures that failed to target specific programs. ``Would-be budget-cutters have yet to come to grips with the devilish details of reining in federal spending,'' NTU noted.
Among key groups on the Hill, the Congressional Black Caucus supported the largest increases in federal spending ($490.5 billion), NTU found. The Republican Study Committee backed the biggest cuts, $30.3 billion.
On balance, women members of Congress supported a $176 billion budget increase. Male members wanted an increase of $92 billion.