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President Obama’s Fictional Spending Cuts



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Last spring, President Obama proposed $11.3 billion worth of discretionary spending cuts. Today’s Washington Times notes that Congress accepted $6.9 billion worth of these cuts, a 61 percent success rate.

In a $3.6 trillion federal budget, that comes to just 0.2 percent of the federal budget.

But there is a larger issue:100 percent of the savings from these “cuts” were automatically shifted into new spending. Total federal spending was not reduced by one dollar.

Here’s why: By the time President Obama released his proposed cuts, Congress and the White House already agreed on a top-line figure of $1,091 billion in discretionary spending. The only remaining issue was how to divvy up the funds. So Congress merely took $6.9 billion from the targeted programs, and shifted that money to other programs. At the end of the year, total discretionary spending remained at exactly $1,091 billion.

Furthermore, nearly all of the spending cuts proposed by the president and accepted by Congress were in defense. Thus, all they did was shift billions of dollars from defense programs to domestic programs. It’s like an indebted family cutting its grocery budget, but then putting all the savings into entertainment. 

So how is that a victory for taxpayers?

Brian Riedl is Grover M. Hermann fellow in federal budgetary affairs at the Heritage Foundation.



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