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AP: Don’t Worry, Nothing Was Really Cut

From a suddenly reassuring Associated Press:

Obama prevents budget cuts to favorite programs

By Andrew Taylor, Associated Press Tue Apr 12, 2011

WASHINGTON – A close look at the government shutdown-dodging agreement to cut federal spending by $38 billion reveals that lawmakers significantly eased the fiscal pain by pruning money left over from previous years, using accounting sleight of hand and going after programs President Barack Obama had targeted anyway.

Such moves permitted Obama to save favorite programs — Pell grants for poor college students, health research and "Race to the Top" aid for public schools, among others — from Republican knives.

To translate, these moves permitted Obama to protect teachers unions, the SEIU members who work in health. The teachers unions and SEIU were among Obama’s top financial contributors in 2008. And besides money, they supply him with his most stalwart foot soldiers. (That is, apart from the news media.)

And big holes in foreign aid and Environmental Protection Agency accounts were patched in large part. Republicans also gave up politically treacherous [sic] cuts to the Agriculture Department’s food inspection program.

Placating Obama’s ‘green constituents’ and his probably wife.

The full details of Friday’s agreement weren’t being released until overnight as it was officially submitted to the House.

You see, the Republican rank and file had to agree to the deal to find out what was in it. — See how different things are now?

But the picture already emerging is of legislation financed with a lot of one-time savings and cuts that officially "score" as savings to pay for spending elsewhere, but that often have little to no actual impact on the deficit.

How could a $3.8 billion dollar cut in spending have any impact on a $1.6 trillion dollar a year deficit, anyway? This was symbolism at best.

As a result of the legerdemain, Obama was able to reverse many of the cuts passed by House Republicans in February when the chamber passed a bill slashing this year’s budget by more than $60 billion.

But we thought Mr. Obama was for cutting the deficit? So why is his ability to snooker the Republicans into not cutting the deficit being portrayed as a victory?

In doing so, the White House protected favorites like the Head Start early learning program, while maintaining the maximum Pell grant of $5,550 and funding for Obama’s "Race to the Top" initiative that provides grants to better-performing schools.

And lining the pockets of the teachers union, who in turn, line his pockets.

Obama also repelled Republican moves to cut $1 billion in grants for community health centers and $500 million from biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health, while blocking them from "zeroing out" the AmeriCorps national service program and subsidies for public broadcasting.

Again, he was merely protecting his troops. The SEIU and his foremost propaganda outlet, NPR/CPB.

Instead, the cuts that actually will make it into law are far tamer, including cuts to earmarks, unspent census money, leftover federal construction funding, and $2.5 billion from the most recent renewal of highway programs that can’t be spent because of restrictions set by other legislation.

In other words, they are cutting money that couldn’t be spent anyway. Try as they might.

Another $3.5 billion comes from unused spending authority from a program providing health care to children of lower-income families.

They have to leave cuts like this in, so they can talk about what monsters the Republicans are.

About $10 billion of the cuts already have been enacted as the price for keeping the government open as negotiations progressed; lawmakers tipped their hand regarding another $10 billion or so when the House passed a spending bill last week that ran aground in the Senate.

We will assume that this means that the cuts are including the $10 billion in cuts contained in the previous ‘Continuing Resolutions.’ If so, this really is outrageous. – But why doesn’t the AP or any other news report actually spell this out?

For instance, the spending measure reaps $350 million by cutting a one-year program enacted in 2009 for dairy farmers then suffering from low milk prices. Another $650 million comes by not repeating a one-time infusion into highway programs passed that same year. And just last Friday, Congress approved Obama’s $1 billion request for high-speed rail grants — crediting themselves with $1.5 billion in savings relative to last year…

To be fair, there are no ‘one-year’ or ‘one-time infusions’ when it comes to government spending. And to have reduced Obama’s spending on high speed rail by $1.5 billion is still a reduction in spending. But, even so, this is not what most people have in mind when they are talking about real cuts.

About $10 billion of the cuts comes from targeting appropriations accounts previously used by lawmakers for so-called earmarks, those pet projects like highways, water projects, community development grants and new equipment for police and fire departments. Republicans had already engineered a ban on earmarks when taking back the House this year.

Again, this seems to indicate that they cut money that was not going to be spent anyway.

Republicans also claimed $5 billion in savings by capping payments from a fund awarding compensation to crime victims. Under an arcane bookkeeping rule — used for years by appropriators — placing a cap on spending from the Justice Department crime victims fund allows lawmakers to claim the entire contents of the fund as budget savings. The savings are awarded year after year…

This is a shady practice. But we wonder if the AP would have noted it were it done by Democrats. In fact, is this one of the Obama’s cuts they were talking about in the beginning of the article, but have yet to mention?

The White House rejected GOP attempts to block the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to issue global warming rules and other reversals of environmental regulations. Obama also forced Republicans to drop an effort to cut off Planned Parenthood from federal funding, as well as GOP moves to stop implementation of Obama’s overhauls of health care and Wall Street regulation.

The administration also thwarted a GOP attempt to block new rules governing the Internet, as well as a National Rifle Association-backed attempt to neuter a little-noticed initiative aimed at catching people running guns to Mexican drug lords by having regulators gather information on batch purchases of rifles and shotguns.

Hooray! Mr. Obama is not going to put an end to the program that passes out assault weapons to the drug cartels in Mexico! What an accomplishment!

Anti-abortion lawmakers did, however, succeed in winning a provision to block taxpayer-funded abortions in the District of Columbia.

Which we have been told for years doesn’t happen anyway.

And House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, won funding for a personal initiative to provide federally funded vouchers for District of Columbia students to attend private schools.

Of course Mr. Obama will probably do away with this via executive order. He can’t have his precious children rubbing elbows with the riff-raff.

Still, all in all, it’s pretty clear that the backlash from the base has been much greater than the Obama administration expected. Apparently, the left took the news media’s spin of this as a "Boehner win’ a little too seriously. So the AP has been dispatched directed to soften the blow by laying out what really happened.

Nothing has really been cut. So we can all rest easy.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Tuesday, April 12th, 2011. Comments are currently closed.

4 Responses to “AP: Don’t Worry, Nothing Was Really Cut”

  1. GetBackJack

    I can think of a couple things that need to be cut, but our host doesn’t need the kind of attention my list would produce and it would get me on a Watch List, so …. use your imagination.

  2. proreason

    It’s all play money anyway, right? We only exist as whims of our betters in Washington. We’re lucky to be alive, when there are so many so much needier than we are. Obamy and Boner are such benevolent rulers. We should thank them.

  3. Rusty Shackleford

    So we had an election last November.

    And the republicans control the house of representatives as opposed to the democrats.

    Interestingly, a distinction without a difference.

    • BillK

      There are distinct differences between the two.

      Democrats believe in big government and will do anything to get their way.

      Republicans give in to Democrats and are afraid of their own shadows.

      Thus Republicans exist for the sole purpose of allowing the Democrats to say their destructive changes are “bipartisan.”


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