The Corner

Funny Money

How will Obama find $2 trillion in savings over the next ten years, as he said he would last night? Easy. As White House spokesman Robert Gibbs hinted today in the White House press briefing, the White House can pretend that we would have otherwise been spending the same amount in Iraq through 2019. When we leave Iraq, we can call the difference “savings.”

Here is the exchange that took place:

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REPORTER: We were told last night that [the $2 trillion savings pledge] basically refers to two things. One is the expiration of tax cuts on the wealthy that would happen next year; and two is a reduction of what we are currently spending in Iraq.

GIBBS: No, I don’t — I — I don’t think so at all. It’s an end of — it’s an end to the commitment and the spending of that money . . . 

GIBBS: I think that’s — I think that’s certainly a decent part of it. I don’t know, not having seen — at least not having in front of me the formal documents to know whether that’s a hundred percent.”

REPORTER: Okay. But let me ask, is it transparent to say that tax increases are part of savings? And is it transparent to say that we’re going to be saving that much from Iraq, when nobody expects that 10 years out we would be spending what we’re spending today in Iraq? Even the previous administration agreed to get out of Iraq by 2012…

GIBBS: Well, I mean, if we’re not spending the money and the money doesn’t go out the door and the money doesn’t increase the deficit, and the deficit decreases by some amount, ultimately getting you to the president’s goal of halving a 1.2 (trillion dollar) to $1.3 trillion deficit in his first four years in office.

REPORTER: But if nobody expects to spend 10 years from now what we’re spending today in Iraq, and we use that as our baseline, saying, ‘Oh, we’re saving because we’re not spending what we did 10 years ago,’ I mean, isn’t that sort of setting up a funny money comparison?

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