How John Boehner's Debt Plan Would Let Federal Spending Continue to Rise


As always, it's important to remember that reducing the projected federal deficit, as the CBO estimates that House Speaker John Boehner's deficit plan would do, doesn't always mean spending less. It's easy to call these projected deficit decreases cuts (I've probably done it myself), but they're not really true spending cuts in the way that most people think of them.

Even when there are no new taxes, reducing the deficit typically means reducing it against the projected baseline—a projected spending schedule under which total spending is expected to rise. So as Cato's Chris Edwards explains, "the Boehner plan doesn't actually cut spending at all." Edwards goes on to illustrate how discretionary spending, the portion of the budget which Congress has the most year-to-year control over, would rise each year under the Boehner plan, increasing from a projected $1.043 trillion in 2012 up to $1.234 trillion a decade later. 

Budget time.

Neither the Boehner plan nor the Reid plan, if enacted, would reduce spending from today's levels. Instead, they'd merely slow the rise of federal spending. That's better than allowing it to continue as planned. But it's far less than the sort of fundamental reform our current dismal debt trajectory requires

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  1. the Boehner plan doesn’t actually cut spending at all

    Right. That’s the point. Is anyone–anyone at all–surprised? The leviathan has reached critical mass. It is now out of control, and it is doubtful whether it can be brought under control again.

    1. At this point, we’re basically just waiting for it to implode so we can pick up the pieces and rebuild.

      1. Dibs on the pieces!

      2. Except that any “implosion” will be structured by the thieves to be beneficial to them. There won’t be any pieces to pick up.

        1. I dunno. I have my doubts they have the competency to do much more thieving once we go over the cliff.

          1. Uh…how can you say that after the bailouts? I mean really, dude; that was straight up thievery.

            1. At some point there won’t be anything left to steal. My entire backyard will be a garden and I’ll shot animals and tax collectors who try to steal from it.

            2. What Drake said, partially. By implosion I meant the collapse of the federal government. Maybe I’m being too “apocalyptic”.

              1. zombie senators! Maybe that’s what’s wrong with Nancy Pelosi’s face!

    2. It also creats an unconst. legeslative body called a super congress! WHY is NO ONE talkign about them trying to creat a new branch of goverment!

    3. The Demon party has been doing this for ages now. Everytime there’s a reduction in rate of increase, a fairly moderate proposal, the Demagogue Party gets out and makes their intelligent, reality-based critiques of the bill. You know, reserved and intellectual cries like, “everyone will die! That emergency spending measure has to be made PERMANENT! etc”

      I think when you look at Greece, the Wisconsin Union debacle, you come to the conclusions that socialism actually makes people much more selfish, oppressive and evil. F you, so long as my bennies or free check is straight.

      1. Proven scientific fact: people covet other people’s money.

  2. How many years have “devastating” federal budget cuts been, in reality, merely a reduction in the amount of an annual budget increase? This is they way they think.

    1. We’re not sure what you mean by “think”, but … You’re welcome!

  3. Neither the Boehner plan nor the Reid plan, if enacted, would reduce spending from today’s levels. Instead, they’d merely slow the rise of federal spending.


    That does it, I’m voting LIBERTARIAN!

    1. A man can dream…

  4. Neither the Boehner plan nor the Reid plan, if enacted, would reduce spending from today’s levels. Instead, they’d merely slow the rise of federal spending.

    In reality, they wouldn’t even do that. Future spending cuts are always bullshit spending cuts. No Congress can irrevocably bind future Congresses on budgetary matters, and the CBO is forced by rule to go along with this silly charade that these long-term budget “plans” are binding, when they’re not at all.

  5. Neither the Boehner plan nor the Reid plan, if enacted, would reduce spending from today’s levels.

    What? That’s unpossible. I’ve been told repeatedly, by people with very serious voices and furrowed brows, that anything less than the status quo will usher in a new age of savage cannibalism for urban dwellers and violent pet food raiding gangs composed of nothing but the elderly.

  6. That’s an 18% increase over 9 years.

    Probably roughly equal to the amount GDP will grow over that time. Optimistically, perhaps, roughly equal to the growth in private GDP and tax receipts.

    So, the Boehner plan locks in trillion dollar deficits? Isn’t that about right?

    And, its too radical?

    1. What blows my mind is how the budget ballooned so quickly, with all these supposedly “temporary” increases, and yet somehow it hasn’t deflated back down, even partially.

      1. That was the plan from day 1, Joe. Fire up your wayback machine, and you will see some commenters here (ahem) predicting that the stimulus bill was mostly a ploy to permanently increase the federal budget baseline.

        1. Yeah, makes sense. I’m sure they had all that in the holster waiting, just like with the Patriot Act.

      2. It didn’t happen overnight, it was the Rethuglicans! They did!

  7. Jesus! Cut spending now! Business as usual means lost office. It’s that simple.

    1. Are you serious?

  8. Just checked the CBO, and their projection is for an increase in the federal deficit of $6 trillion over the next 10 years. That assumes the tax cuts expire, ObamaCare saves us a ton of money, etc.

    I don’t think it includes any assumed reductions in war spending after our Glorious Victories in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya conclude with ticker-tape parades and widespread demobilization of units.

    So call it mildly optimistic.

    And we can just barely, maybe, slow the rate of growth enough to reduce the growth of our debt by 16%? And that by heroic effort on the part of Our Masters?

    Doomed, I tells ya.

    1. Quimby: Now people, we are far from screwed. Time for panic has come. We must move forward and turn to the town’s all purpose contingency plan.

  9. http://www.heritage.org/budget…..-household

    It’s a spending ratchet – not many dips down. Depressing.

    1. You misspelled racket.

    2. What ever happened to economies of scale?With all the spending, you’d think we’d be getting a better deal.

  10. And yet it is the best that is possible in the current climate. DC is dysfunctional, but you have to take whatever small victory you can get now and fight like hell for better representatives in the House and Senate next time – and a new President.

    1. ^^^this

    2. Who would this be a victory for? Team Red? Certainly no one else.

    3. No kidding, once we get another president with an R after his name, fiscal issues will no longer matter. Probably the easiest solution.

  11. I like the Mack Penny Plan which gets rid of baseline budgeting and reduces spending by 1% each year for 6 years (that’s real 1% cuts…as in, this year’s budget is X, next year’s budget is 0.99X, then 0.98X the next year, etc.). It suffers from the same thing the Boehner plan does in compelling future congresses, etc., but I think a plan like that is a good way to get a handle on this problem without causing too much pain.

    It’s never going to happen, though, so given the Boehner/Reid alternatives, I’ll take “no deal” (I say this as a relatively wealthy individual who, no doubt, will lose quite a bit (the stock market, real estate, bonds, and possibly my job (private entity but with gov’t contracts)).

    1. Actually now that I think about it, change that “possibly my job” to “almost certainly, my job”.

  12. I doom large.

  13. It’s just discretionary spending anyway, so who cares? Entitlements are the problem. Boehner isn’t proposing to do a damn thing about those, for fear of losing an election and having to go get a real job. Oh, the humanity!

    1. But a post-electoral real job for a guy like Boner is lobbying future Congressmen on behalf of an industry group or megacorpo.

  14. Get a +1 button.

  15. See you August 3rd.

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