It isn’t even Friday yet, so please understand that this isn’t a joke, even if I wish it was. Details are coming out about the budget compromise that was reached to avoid a government shutdown last week and they would be laughable if it wasn’t all sadly true. It was bad enough that the $38 billion cut was less than the amount of money that the government had spent just that week already. It is worse to find out what most of us already suspected; none of the $38 billion that was cut is even real cuts anyway.
A close look at the government shutdown-dodging agreement to cut federal spending by $38 billion reveals that lawmakers significantly eased the fiscal pain by pruning money left over from previous years, using accounting sleight of hand and going after programs President Barack Obama had targeted anyway.
Translation, the counted money they didn’t spend in previous years a cut in this year’s budget. How about you try doing that on your taxes some time. I bet it won’t work.
As a result of the legerdemain, Obama was able to reverse many of the cuts passed by House Republicans in February when the chamber passed a bill slashing this year’s budget by more than $60 billion. In doing so, the White House protected favorites like the Head Start early learning program, while maintaining the maximum Pell grant of $5,550 and funding for Obama’s “Race to the Top” initiative that provides grants to better-performing schools.
So, reaching their compromise caused them to do away with $60 billion worth of other cuts they had already made. How can we add back $60 billion and claim to be cutting $38 billion? I guess it depends on what your definition of “cuts” is. But don’t worry, the insanity doesn’t stop there.
About $10 billion of the cuts comes from targeting appropriations accounts previously used by lawmakers for so-called earmarks, those pet projects like highways, water projects, community development grants and new equipment for police and fire departments. Republicans had already engineered a ban on earmarks when taking back the House this year.
So, part of the money saved comes once again from something that already was done before this past week. It leads to the obvious question, did they actually do anything to really avoid a shutdown or are they just blowing lots of smoke and hoping we all choke on it?
Our problems are a lot bigger than whether or not we can save $38 billion dollars. What we really need is to cut off the debt now instead of letting it continue to grow. The bigger the whole we allow to be dug now; the harder it will be to get out of it later. You and I could never get away with this, but it is different when govenrmnent does it, or is it?