National Review ^ | April 13, 2011 7:00 P.M. | Editor
Posted on Wednesday, April 13, 2011 8:44:54 PM by yup2394871293
We initially supported the deal House Speaker John Boehner cut with the White House to cut $38.5 billion from the rest of the fiscal year 2011 budget. It was only a pittance in the context of all of Washington’s red ink, but it seemed an acceptable start, even if we assumed it would be imperfect in its details. What we didn’t assume was that the agreement would be shot through with gimmicks and one-time savings. What had looked in its broad outlines like a modest success now looks like a sodden disappointment.
All the cuts in the deal aren’t equal. The ones that matter most are the cuts in discretionary spending that reduce the budget baseline in future years. Even with more the details of the deal released early yesterday morning, the exact numbers are still shrouded in confusion, but it is clear the cuts are much less than meets the eye — the gimmickry is not merely around the edges. The $38.5 billion includes real cuts, but also a dog’s breakfast of budgetary legerdemain. According to the Associated Press, the deal purports to save $2.5 billion “from the most recent renewal of highway programs that can’t be spent because of restrictions set by other legislation.” It gets another $4.9 billion by capping a reserve fund for the victims of crime that also wasn’t going to be spent this year — a long-standing trick of appropriators.
The Washington Post reports that a notional $3.5 billion cut from the Children’s Health Insurance Program “would affect only rewards for states that make an extra effort to enroll children. But officials with knowledge of the budget deal said that most states were unlikely to qualify for the bonuses and that sufficient money would be available for those that did.”
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