When the previous Bush administration released its fiscal 2006 budget proposal, it included a separate document listing specific spending cuts and other reforms. The idea was too little and too late, and it’s likely that the Bush administration included it as part of a feeble attempt to answer critics of the Republican spending binge.
For this libertarian policy analyst, the annual release of the president’s budget proposal is like the day after your team loses the Super Bowl: everyone’s talking about it, but you’d rather curl up in bed with a fifth of Old Grand-Dad.
The President on Tuesday signed the continuing resolution that funds the government through September and (gasp) keeps the sequester cuts intact. Now that it appears sequestration isn’t going away (and yet the earth continues to spin merrily on its axis), the focus should be on how this small step might be extended.
The latest report by the Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold on Beltway tomfoolery tells of what happened when both Democrats and Republicans asked government workers and the public for suggestions on how to reduce government spending. Apparently neither party had much interest in the responses.
For supporters of limited government, there is some good news coming from Washington. On entitlement spending, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s new spending plan would reform Medicare and Medicaid, repeal Obamacare, and balance the budget over 10 years.
“The budget hawks have defeated the defense hawks.” So read one analyst’s verdict last Friday on the news that, despite months of dire warnings from the Obama administration and the Pentagon’s allies on Capitol Hill, automatic budget cuts to the U.S. Defense Department would go into effect after all. Bill Kristol, the influential editor of the Weekly Standard, was despondent, writing, “the Republican party has, at first reluctantly, then enthusiastically, joined the president on the road to irresponsibility.” But have fiscal scolds really vanquished their neoconservative rivals within the GOP?
Sheldon Richman and I spent a lot of time last week running through numbers from theCongressional Budget Office in order to gauge sequestration’s effect on federal spending. In the resulting column, Richman lays out the numbers and asks a pertinent question: How the $#!?% is the average voter supposed to have a clue about this stuff?
“The sequester is coming, the sequester is coming,” cries Chicken Little, speaking of the across-the-board spending reductions set to kick in next Friday. As a result, much of the Washington establishment, politicians of both parties, and the media are bracing for the apocalypse.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the $85 billion in sequestration spending cuts translates into $44 billion reduction in actual federal outlays for 2013. The following chart puts that figure in perspective.
The scheduled implementation of the sequestration spending cuts is a little more than a week away, which has Republicans, Democrats, bureaucrats, special interests, and the media warning that the apocalypse is nigh. Sequestration isn’t the ideal way to cut spending, but it would be a start. And despite all the wailing and gnashing of teeth, the areas of federal spending targeted by sequestration should be cut.