House Republicans want to cut $100 billion in federal spending this year. Think tanks have produced lists of cuts far beyond that.
And the president? Well, his idea of fiscal restraint is to cut $26 billion…spread over five years. From The Wall Street Journal:
President Barack Obama will call for a five-year freeze on nonsecurity discretionary spending in his State of the Union address Tuesday night “as a down payment toward reducing the deficit,” a White House official said.
The freeze won’t touch some of the budget’s biggest items, such as Medicare, Social Security and defense spending, nor will it apply to homeland-security spending or foreign aid.
You have to love the “down payment” analogy, given how much economic damage we’ve suffered the last few years due, in no small part, to the lack of seriousness banks and borrowers devoted to down payments toward home mortgages. Even if we accept the wrong-headed idea that only nonsecurity discretionary spending is on the table — a view rejected by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor — the president is talking about cutting about 1.1 percent from annual expenditures of nearly $450 billion. Needless to say, $5 billion is a fraction of 1 percent of the entire federal budget.
Some down payment.
Spending about as much as the disgusting amounts of money Washington has been spending is not an improvement. In fact, when a “freeze” keeps in place stimulus-inflated spending levels that were supposed to be temporary, it is for all intents and purposes a spending increase.
We’ll parse the rest of the State of the Union speech after the fact. But for now, let’s just hope that this White House official is simply trying to keep expectations low.
– By Kyle Wingfield
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