How Increasing Spending Counts As A Spending Cut

Here’s how to lose 5 pounds in a week the Washington D.C. way. First, set a goal to gain 10 pounds in a week. Let’s say, by the end of the week, you’ve only gained 5. Congratulations, you just lost 5 pounds in a week’s time.

Some people like to compare Washington’s spending cut claims to not going on lavish vacations. Here’s A. Barton Hinkle of Reason:

 “Plan a month-long vacation to Disneyland and budget $20,000 for the trip. Then don’t go. Presto! You just ‘cut’ your family budget by 20 grand.”

 No one would take a person seriously if he was claiming to lose weight or slash his budget by cutting proposed increases as in the above examples. These are absolutely absurd, but this is not at all an exaggeration when it comes to politicians in Washington claiming that they “cut” spending.

Recently, Obama proudly asserted that last year, he cut spending by $1 trillion. But during fiscal year 2011, spending went from $3.4 trillion to $3.6 trillion. I don’t know how they do math over in D.C., but here in America, going from 3.4 to 3.6 is an increase, not a decrease.

So, did he just lie? Well, that wouldn’t be surprising, but he’s probably referring to when he agreed in 2011 to cut proposed increases in spending.

Despite these multiple “cuts,” spending has still increased in the last 10 years. It was a $1.8 trillion in 2000, and it’s currently at $3.8 trillion. Here’s Reason again:

 “According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, using figures from the Congressional Budget Office, two years ago Washington expected to spend $4.26 trillion in 2015. Now the projections suggest Washington will spend $4.30 trillion in 2015. Either way, that’s an increase from the current $3.8 trillion. It’s the same story for 2020. After everything Congress and the president have agreed to, spending in 2020 is still projected to be $5.1 trillion—which is 34 percent more than we spent in 2012. So how can anyone claim to be cutting spending? Because two years ago, Washington had planned to spend $5.6 trillion in 2020. Since it now expects to spend less than that sum, that qualifies as a “cut,” at least in the no-trip-to-Disney sense.”

So, in 2010, Washington had projected that they would spend $5.6 trillion in 2020. Now, they’re projecting $5.1 trillion. Wow, they just “cut” half a trillion dollars in spending! Good for them.

And they claim that they want to bring a “balanced” approach to deficit reduction. In other words, having enough real spending cuts to balance out the tax increases. But they can’t even get that right. Their recent fiscal cliff deal is supposed to cut the deficit by $737 billion, 84% of which is from new tax revenue.

In Washington doublespeak, a spending cut occurs when the government increases spending less than what they projected. It’s completely absurd, but it’s what keeps people voting for them over and over again.