Budget “Deal” Skullduggery – Shouldn’t Have Expected Any Different
So that $38.5 billion budget deficit reduction deal? Not really much of anything.
[T]he cuts …includ[e] cuts to earmarks, unspent census money, leftover federal construction funding, and $2.5 billion from the most recent renewal of highway programs that can’t be spent because of restrictions set by other legislation. Another $3.5 billion comes from unused spending authority from a program providing health care to children of lower-income families….the spending measure reaps $350 million by cutting a one-year program enacted in 2009 for dairy farmers then suffering from low milk prices. Another $650 million comes by not repeating a one-time infusion into highway programs passed that same year. And just last Friday, Congress approved Obama’s $1 billion request for high-speed rail grants — crediting themselves with $1.5 billion in savings relative to last year.
About $10 billion of the cuts comes from targeting appropriations accounts previously used by lawmakers for so-called earmarks…Republicans also claimed $5 billion in savings by capping payments from a fund awarding compensation to crime victims. Under an arcane bookkeeping rule — used for years by appropriators — placing a cap on spending from the Justice Department crime victims fund allows lawmakers to claim the entire contents of the fund as budget savings. The savings are awarded year after year.
Conservative Republicans and Tea Party faves weren’t too jazzed about all of this:
Even before details of the bill came out, some conservative Republicans were assailing it. Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., said he probably won’t vote for the measure, and tea party favorite Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., is a “nay” as well.
The $38 billion in cuts, Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., wrote on his Facebook page, “barely make a dent” in the country’s budget woes.
In all, only about $352 million in real spending was actually cut. Regardless of the reality of the actual cuts, Mark Steyn observes:
The joke re the original $38.5 billion deal was that, in the time it took to negotiate it, we added as much again in new debt (we’re borrowing about $4 billion a day). We didn’t know the half of it: Never mind negotiating, in the time it takes to type up the bill, we’ve borrowed as much as it “saves”. By the time this thing’s through, the cost of the Secret Service detail lugging the Obamaprompter to whichever grade school he announces the final definitive historic budget “cuts” at will be three times as much as any actual savings.
Just nibbling for show.