In return for agreeing to raise the debt ceiling (and, by the way, that’s the wrong way of looking at it: more accurately, we’re lowering the debt abyss), John Boehner bragged that he’d got a deal for “a real, enforceable cut” of supposedly $7 billion from fiscal year 2012. After running the numbers themselves, the Congressional Budget Office said it only cut $1 billion from FY 2012.
Which of these numbers is accurate?
The correct answer is: Who cares? The government of the United States currently spends $188 million it doesn’t have every hour of every day. So, if it’s $1 billion in “real, enforceable cuts,” in the time it takes to roast a 20-pound stuffed turkey for your Thanksgiving dinner, the government’s already borrowed back all those painstakingly negotiated savings. If it’s $7 billion in “real, enforceable cuts,” in the time it takes you to defrost the bird, the cuts have all been borrowed back.
Bonus question: How “real” and “enforceable” are all those real, enforceable cuts? By the time the relevant bill passed the Senate earlier this month, the 2012 austerity budget with its brutal, savage cuts to government services actually increased spending by $10 billion. More, more, more, how do you like it?
It’s Ye Olde Saturday Steyn, so you know you’ll want to read…uuh, more, more more.
Update! McCarthy follows up:
We ought to be doing everything in our power to tee up the 2012 election as a high-noon showdown between Obama’s insatiable Leviathan and a GOP vision of fiscally sane, constitutional conservatism. So how do Republicans respond to their moment? How do they propose to “stop out-of-control spending and reduce the size of government”? Why, by putting taxpayers on the hook for shaky loans on luxury homes — sure to add prodigiously to the already $142 billion (and counting) housing bailout attributable to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Not housing for the poor, mind you, nor even for the middle-class —luxury homes. The real-estate market is so depressed at the moment that the median sale price of a single-family home is less than $170,000. Even in high-cost areas like Los Angeles, the Wall Street Journal reports, it has plunged to less than $325,000. Yet the Republican House — installed by the Tea Party in a sea-change election to be the antidote to Obamanomics — decided the taxpayers should guarantee FHA loans up to $729,750. Had they not acted, the public obligation would have been reduced to “only” $625,500 per FHA loan — couldn’t have that, right?
No, of course not. That would be a savage, brutal, and inhuman policy, don’tchaknow. McCarthy also makes a good point about that WSJ piece I approvingly cited early this week:
The editors dismiss as a “Beltway fable” the Democratic talking point that the supercommittee flopped because of GOP resistance to tax increases. True enough, but then they counter with a Beltway fable of their own: to wit, the real problem is that “the two parties disagree profoundly on a vision of government. Democrats don’t believe they need to do more than tinker around the edges of the entitlement state while raising taxes on the rich. Republicans think the growth of government is unsustainable and can’t be financed no matter how much taxes are raised.”
In truth, the two parties are largely in agreement: The blob must grow. Yes, Obama Democrats want to grow it by about $6 trillion over the next decade, but Republicans are nearly as bad. Writing with Reason editor Nick Gillespie, NRO Cornerite Veronique de Rugy points out that the GOP would grow it by close to $5 trillion — a 30 percent increase.
If Republicans really thought the growth of government was unsustainable, they’d stop growing it. As it is, the truly profound difference on “a vision of government” is between those who believe that government “growth” is unsustainable versus those who realize that government is unsustainable as is — those who grasp that throwing untold billions at Baby Boomer palaces is not compassion; it is the grandest of larceny, robbing our children and grandchildren of the chance for prosperity our forebears laid down their lives to preserve for us.
It was only a decade ago that we were getting by on 18.2 percent of GDP, and only about half a decade ago that a $400 billion annual deficit (about a trillion less than what we’re running now) was considered unconscionable. Where are the Republicans who are going to tell us how we get back to that?
I gots no answer to that one, I’m afraid.