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Deficit-Reduction Fever
President Obama launches the war on tchotchkes.


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Mark Steyn

Have you been following this so-called Supercommittee? They’re the new superhero group of Superfriends from the Supercongress who are going to save America from plummeting over the cliff and into the multi-trillion-dollar abyss. There’s Spender Woman (Patty Murray), Incumbent Boy (Max Baucus), Kept Man (John Kerry), and many other warriors for truth, justice, and the American way of debt. The Supercommittee is supposed to report back by the day before Thanksgiving on how to carve out $1.2 trillion dollars of deficit reduction and thereby save the republic.

I had cynically assumed that the Superfriends would address America’s imminent debt catastrophe with some radical reform — such as, say, slowing the increase in spending by raising the age for lowering the age of Medicare eligibility from 47 to 49 by the year 2137, after which triumph we could all go back to sleep until total societal collapse.

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But I underestimated the genius of the Superfriends’ Supercommittee. It turns out that a committee created to reduce the deficit is instead going to increase it. As The Hill reported:

Democrats on the supercommittee have proposed that the savings from the end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan be used to pay for a new stimulus package, according to a summary of the $2.3 trillion plan obtained by The Hill.

Do you follow that? Let the Congressional Budget Office explain it to you:

The budget savings from ending the wars are estimated to total around $1 trillion over a decade, according to an estimate in July from the Congressional Budget Office.

Let us note in passing that, according to the official CBO estimates, a whole decade’s worth of war in both Iraq and Afghanistan adds up to little more than Obama’s 2009 stimulus bill. But, aside from that, in what sense are these “savings”? The Iraq War is ended — or, at any rate, “ended,” at least as far as U.S. participation in it is concerned. How then can congressional accountants claim to be able to measure “savings” in 2021 from a war that ended a decade earlier? And why stop there? Why not estimate around $2 trillion in savings by 2031? After all, that would free up even more money for a bigger stimulus package, wouldn’t it? And it wouldn’t cost us anything because it would all be “savings.”

Come to think of it, didn’t the Second World War end in 1945? Could we have the CBO score the estimated two-thirds of a century of “budget savings” we’ve saved since ending that war? We could use the money to fund free master’s degrees in Complacency and Self-Esteem Studies for everyone, and that would totally stimulate the economy. The Spanish–American War ended 103 years ago, so imagine how much cash has already piled up! Like they say at Publishers Clearing House, you may already have won!



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