Fake budget cuts

Not only were the $38 billion in spending cuts merely an insignificant fraction of the $1.5 trillion deficit, which is $330 billion larger than the previously estimated $1.17 trillion estimate, but at least some of that $38 billion doesn’t actually represent a cut in spending:

A close look at the government shutdown-dodging agreement to cut federal spending by $38 billion reveals that lawmakers significantly eased the fiscal pain by pruning money left over from previous years, using accounting sleight of hand and going after programs President Barack Obama had targeted anyway.

Such moves permitted Obama to save favorite programs — Pell grants for poor college students, health research and “Race to the Top” aid for public schools, among others — from Republican knives. And big holes in foreign aid and Environmental Protection Agency accounts were patched in large part. Republicans also gave up politically treacherous cuts to the Agriculture Department’s food inspection program.

The full details of Friday’s agreement weren’t being released until overnight as it was officially submitted to the House. But the picture already emerging is of legislation financed with a lot of one-time savings and cuts that officially “score” as savings to pay for spending elsewhere, but that often have little to no actual impact on the deficit.

In other words, they “cut” money that had already had not been spent as planned, while committing to new expenses. It’s just more of the usual accounting smoke and mirrors; the bi-factional ruling party plays its game to keep the media and public entertained as the Fed continues attempting to put out the fire by pouring more gasoline on it.

UPDATE – Apparently the cuts are even more modest than anyone had imagined: A comparison prepared by the CBO shows that the omnibus spending bill, advertised as containing some $38.5 billion in cuts, will only reduce federal outlays by $352 million below 2010 spending rates. The nonpartisan budget agency also projects that total outlays are actually some $3.3 billion more than in 2010, if emergency spending is included in the total.

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