Free Markets, Free People

Isabel Sawhill


$3.4 Trillion In Spending, $17 Billion In “Savings”

I am enjoying the spin on this – a $3.4 trillion dollar budget offset by $17 billion in “savings”. And what does the administration want you concentrating on? That pittance of a savings.

Now I welcome any program eliminations and reductions, don’t get me wrong, but my goodness, $17 billion in relation to the spending that’s being done with the budget and outside the budget for “stimulus” and bailouts makes these “savings” simply laughable. They’re diversionary bait. They’re larger than the 100 million Obama ordered previously only because of the derision with which that cut was met. In the context of total spending, this ‘savings’ is comparable.

Even liberals aren’t fooled for the most part. Isabel Sawhill, who was a senior official in the Clinton budget office and now with the Brookings Institute finds little to be excited about:

“This is a good government exercise without much prospect of putting a significant dent in spending.”

Translation: “This is all for show. It demonstrates no committment to smaller government or less spending. Its purpose is to dampen criticism of the huge spending increases”.

As I understand it, half the cuts come from Defense spending and the other half from discretionary spending. Again the politics of these cuts is smart if not transparent. If you’re going to cut defense, something the right is passionate about, you have to even that out by eliminating something the left likes. Again, I’m not necessarily against cuts to defense (if they’re smart and appropriate then fine) but you have to again admire the way this is being done – defense cuts and cutting “Even Start”, a program created in the late 1980s to promote literacy for young children and their parents.

Of course Even Start was probably a boondoggle from the start, but what does it do for the administration – give them political cover and somewhat immunize them from criticism.

Smart politics, to a point, but absolutely irrelevant except as a show piece and certainly pitifully insignificant as a spending cut.

~McQ

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