On Feb. 9th, Kentucky Republican Hal Rogers, who chairs the Appropriations Committee for the House of Representatives claimed he was gonna cut $74 billion dollars in the 2011 budget ... event though the spending of that budget's allotment began in October of 2010. So he plans to cut $74 billion in spending from the last 4 or 5 months of the fiscal year?
That's not very smart financial advice:
"With many of the 93 freshmen members of the House still asking rudimentary budget questions such as: ‘what is the difference between an authorization and an appropriation?’ or ‘how do outlays differ from budget authority?’ the time frame that Rep. Rogers and his leadership are committed to means that not only will those voting on the proposal have little opportunity to understand it but the authors themselves will not have fully vetted or completely understood what they are proposing. There have been no hearings, no requests for testimony, and no opportunity even for staff charged with proposing the cuts to do agency-by-agency analysis of the possible negative consequences. Members will vote next week on the package without fundamental knowledge of how major budget changes in literally thousands of federal programs will impact the country in general or their own constituents in particular.
"The point is not that there are no government programs worthy of cutting, but rather that this is a really stupid way to do it. The vast bulk of government spending, which goes to mandatory programs such as Social Security and Medicare, is completely exempted. And Republicans have effectively exempted the departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs from cuts. This leaves only 16 percent of the budget from which they will extract their pound of flesh to satisfy voters who demand huge budget cuts but also oppose cutting just about any program except foreign aid."
The goal is a sort of sleazy campaigning trick - Rep. Rogers and other Republicans could say in 2012 as they run for office "I tried to cut spending in Washington and those evil Democrats and evil media types tried to stop me!!" More accurate to say "My stupid budget ideas were called out as stupid and that's not fair."
Or, as today's column by Paul Krugman says:
"Republicans don’t have a mandate to cut spending; they have a mandate to repeal the laws of arithmetic."