Don't Blame All Our Budget Woes on Bush
By John Rowerdink
Special to The Pilot
Unfortunately, most of the blather coming out of Washington via the news media regarding the upcoming budget "sequester" is long on rhetoric and short on facts.
The president and his supporters would have us believe that if these spending cuts are made, dire consequences will result. Here are a few facts to illuminate and add perspective to this matter:
Federal government spending has been running at $3.5 trillion per year since 2009. The proposed "cuts" of $85 billion per year amount to 2.4 percent of that spending, and these "cuts" are scheduled to occur every year for the next 10 years at roughly the same level.
How is it possible that a reduction in spending of 2.4 percent will have the Draconian effect the president is predicting? To put this in perspective, this is like a family earning $100,000 per year having to reduce its spending by $200 per month. I think most families could handle that.
Our annual budget deficit (shortfall) during the Obama years has been more than $1 trillion every year. So reducing this by $85 billion barely makes a dent in the deficit (8.5 percent of it). To balance the budget, we need to offset 12 times that amount! Are we really to believe that we can't reduce our federal budget deficit by 8.5 percent? That 91.5 percent of our deficit spending is absolutely essential?
To make matters worse, we normally think of "cuts" as meaning that they would actually reduce spending. Not in this case. Most of the government would actually have more to spend after the sequester than before it. In government-speak, "cuts" means they would have less to spend than they thought they would, not less than they actually had.
To take a historical perspective, the federal government's fiscal condition deteriorated mostly in the last 12 years: the eight years of the George W. Bush administration and the four years of the Obama administration. The last time the government had a budget surplus was in 2001. Since then, the federal government's revenue increased 23 percent, but its spending increased 90 percent .
That's almost double! How many of us have been able to double our spending in the last 12 years? This is why Republicans insist that the government has a spending problem, not a revenue problem. Why would Republicans agree to more tax increases when that would only result in even more government spending?
Before anyone tries to blame this all on George W. Bush, let me add that the cumulative budget deficits during the eight years of the Bush administration were a little over $2 trillion. During just four years of the Obama administration, the cumulative deficits have been more than $5 trillion.
Both Republicans and Democrats are saying that sequester is a terrible way to reduce spending; an ax where a scalpel is needed.
True enough. That's why Republicans in the House have twice passed legislation which would reduce spending in a more rational way and without increasing taxes. The Senate has refused to consider this legislation (or to pass a budget, for that matter) and the president seems to prefer to demagogue it to death rather than to work with the Congress to solve the problem.
What our country needs and its people deserve, is for our politicians to be honest with us and to work together to solve the serious problems we face.
John Rowerdink lives in Pinehurst.
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