WaPost admits: alleged federal budget cuts are not 'cuts'
posted at 2/10/2013 2:58 PM EST
In the words of Gomer Pyle, "surprise, surprise, surprise", the government never cuts... Rare truthtelling from the Washington Post, kudos..
"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.
“The largest annual spending cut in our history,” President Obama called it in a televised speech. To prevent a government shutdown, the parties had agreed to slash $37.8 billion: more than the budgets of the Labor and Commerce departments, combined...
...the bill also turned out to be an epic kind of Washington illusion. It was stuffed with gimmicks that made the cuts seem far bigger — and the politicians far bolder — than they actually were.
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.”
Now the failures of that 2011 bill have come back to haunt the leaders who crafted it. Disillusionment with that bill has persuaded many conservatives to reject a line-by-line, program-by-program approach to cutting the budget.
“The administration offered, and the Republican leadership accepted, cuts in stores of funding that . . . were unlikely to be used in the future,” said Richard Kogan, a former Obama administration official who is now at the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “This was conscious on both sides.”
The final deal itself ran to 176 pages and included more than 250 individual reductions. Some of them certainly caused real-life sacrifice: one cut to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration helped delay a crucial weather-satellite program, according to the Obama administration.
But in other cases, sacrifice was minimal. Congress, for instance, “cut” $14.6 million from its own budget to build the Capitol Visitor Center. That changed nothing. The center was already built.
To sketch the bill’s biggest impacts, The Washington Post focused on the 16 largest individual cuts. Each, in theory, sliced at least $500 million from the federal budget. Together, they accounted for $26.1 billion, two-thirds of the total.
In four of those cases, the real-world impact was difficult to measure. The Department of Homeland Security officially declined to comment about a $557 million reduction. The Department of State, the Department of Agriculture and the Federal Emergency Management Agency — whose cuts totaled $1.9 billion — simply did not answer The Post’s questions despite repeated requests over the past month. [the famous Obama 'transparency' in government rearing its head, again...]
Among the other 12 cases, there were at least seven where the cuts caused only minimal real-world disruptions or none at all.
Often, this was made possible by a little act of Washington magic. Agencies got credit for killing what was, in reality, already dead."
Warning: despite these mostly phony cuts, the DC bureacrats use the usual BS line: Office of Management and Budget:“The resources that could be cut, they’ve been cut. The low-hanging fruit is gone.” LOL...sure, whatever you say.
Kudos to the Washington Post for some rare truthtelling about Government....