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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Cuts that aren’t really cuts

 

Conservatives do have a point.

Tax increases are real. We pay when taxes are increased.

Budget cuts are often a sham. They end up not being cuts at all.

The latest (unsurprising) evidence from this comes from the Washington Post.

Late on the night of April 8, 2011, Washington’s leaders announced that they’d just done something extraordinary. They had agreed to cut the federal budget — and cut it big….

In the real world, in fact, many of their “cuts” cut nothing at all. The Transportation Department got credit for “cutting” a $280 million tunnel that had been canceled six months earlier. It also “cut” a $375,000 road project that had been created by a legislative typo, on a road that did not exist.

At the Census Bureau, officials got credit for a whopping $6 billion cut, simply for obeying the calendar. They promised not to hold the expensive 2010 census again in 2011.

Today, an examination of 12 of the largest cuts shows that, thanks in part to these gimmicks, federal agencies absorbed $23 billion in reductions without losing a single employee.

“Many of the cuts we put in were smoke and mirrors,” said Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), a hard-line conservative now in his second term. “That’s the lesson from April 2011: that when Washington says it cuts spending, it doesn’t mean the same thing that normal people mean.”

Faced with what seems like a sham, it’s no wonder some of the conservatives are digging in now. It’s all very well to talk about “compromise”, but there has to be follow through on the cut side that’s realistic, not just for show.