On the Republican Budget Victory

by Shannen W. Coffin

The AP is reporting on the pyrrhic victory for deficit hawks in Friday’s much-heralded $38 billion deal:  

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. . . .

The full details of Friday’s agreement weren’t being released until overnight as it was officially submitted to the House. But the picture already emerging is of legislation financed with a lot of one-time savings and cuts that officially “score” as savings to pay for spending elsewhere, but that often have little to no actual impact on the deficit.

The article reports that the cuts consist of cancellation of one-time expenditures on milk price supports, cuts to unspent census money, and highway expenditures already zeroed out by other legislation. Undoubtedly, there are some real savings in the package, like $10 billion in earmark reductions. But even there, the policy of earmark elimination was already enacted shortly after the new Congress was sworn in.

Obama was able to preserve many, if not most, of his pet projects, like Pell Grants, Planned Parenthood funding, and Americorps. It’s not clear who should be licking their wounds today.

The Corner

The one and only.