President Obama has been singing the praises of the Democrats and Republicans since last weekend because of their coming together at the 11th hour to avert a government shutdown by agreeing to a historic $38 billion dollars worth of federal budget spending cuts. As it turns out all the pats on the back may be celebrating a deal that was more smoke and mirrors than actual cuts to the deficit.
According to The Congressional Budget Office the spending bill would cut spending by only a mere $352 million through Sept. 30. A far cry from the $38 billion cited. There is $8 billion in immediate cuts to domestic programs and foreign aid but they are offset by increases in defense spending. In actuality, when the funding of our current wars are taking into consideration we would actually see an increase in total federal outlays by $3.3 billion relative to current levels. $38 billion in new spending would be reduced in comparison to current levels, but a majority of the cuts come in slow-spending accounts like water-and-sewer grants which do not have an immediate effect on our debt. The $5.7 billion in savings that come by way of cutting bonuses to states enrolling more children while reducing monies available to subsidize health care cooperatives authorized under the new health care law will not produce any actual savings. The CBO believes that that money wasn’t going to be used anyway. Even if they do not actually reduce the deficit, cuts to mandatory benefit programs can be claimed under budget rules to pay for spending increases elsewhere. In total there is $17.8 billion in savings that is being claimed using these rules with only a small portion of that money actually reducing the deficit. The CBO says the elimination of year-round Pell Grants while slash more than $40 billion from the deficit over the next decade.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky, said of the budget deal “With this bill we not only are arresting that growth but we are reducing actual discretionary spending by a record amount, nearly $40 billion in actual cuts in spending that has not ever been accomplished by this body in its history, in the history of the country, The cuts in this bill exceed anything ever passed by the House.” while Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a 2012 presidential candidate, said the budget deal has less cuts than advertised and should be rejected.