Government Spending

George Will: Spending Wins, Even With Mandatory Sequester Cuts


Wash Post columnist (and Declaration of Independents enthusiast) George Will notes that whatever the Super Committee comes up next week, the answer will almost be certainly: More spending than we are now!

Born during what is mistakenly called the debt-ceiling "debacle" last summer, the congressional supercommittee may die without agreeing to a 10-year, $1.2 trillion (at least) deficit-reduction plan. This is not properly labeled a failure. Committee Democrats demanded more revenue; Republicans offered $500 billion; Democrats responded with the one-syllable distillation of liberalism: "More!" So the committee's work has been a clarifying event that presages a larger one — next November's elections….

The supercommittee should by now have sent its plan to the Congressional Budget Office for "scoring" — calculation of the fiscal consequences of its proposals. The law establishing the committee requires any proposal to be published in legislative language 48 hours before Nov. 23. Not that law has much to do with fiscal matters: The Democratic-controlled Senate has not produced a budget in more than 930 days. This is just one way existing budget law is ignored.

Will underscores that even the dreaded "sequester" kicks in if Congress doesn't pass a plan by year's end, the result will still be massive increases in spending. To do so, he turns to the work of Reason columnist and Mercatus Center economist Veronique de Rugy:

Ignore loose talk about "draconian" spending cuts. Veronique de Rugy of George Mason University's Mercatus Center has a graph ( you should see.

It shows two lines. The top one charts spending, 2013-2021, without the sequester; the other shows spending with the sequester. Both lines are ascending. Both show annual spending rising from less than $4 trillion to more than $5 trillion. The space between them is so narrow that it is difficult to see that there are two lines. Without the sequester, spending will increase $1.7 trillion; with the sequester, spending will increase $1.6 trillion. Here are categories of spending:

Ten-year spending increases
Without With
Defense 20
Medicare 62
Other mandatory 51

And as de Rugy will be the first one to point out, all those increases listed above come on top of the massive ones of the past decade-plus.

For the whole Will col, go here.

Related: Sequester Cuts Biggest Anticlimax Since Release of Segway, Final Fatima Revelation, Last Two Matrix Movies.

NEXT: The Case Against Newt Gingrich

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  1. OPA!
    Greece and Italy are getting off easy compared to where we’ll be when the shit storm hits.

  2. I have to say that the level of literacy, to say nothing of mere coherency, of the first sentence does not give me confidence in the quality of the book you flog so remorselessly…

    no hugs for thugs,
    Shirley Knott

    1. It is quite a mess.

    2. Hand-waving about grammar is meant to distract us.

      Da spenddin’s goin’ up irregardless of the grammur!

      Oh, and I don’t think even Celine would have used ellipses like that. Doesn’t aposiopesis require an incomplete thought?

      Maybe it should have been written, “If the first sentence indicates your level of literacy and coherency, then my confidence in the quality of the book you flog so remorselessly…”

      Oh, and “to say nothing of mere coherency” should come later in the sentence.

      “I have to say that the level of literacy of the first sentence,[to say nothing of mere coherency], does not give me confidence in…”

      Oh, and “flog” isn’t the right word. What he’s doing is promoting his book–not flogging it.


      a: to beat with or as if with a rod or whip

      b: to criticize harshly

      1. In British English, flog also means to promote something you are selling.

  3. The government always wins… until it doesn’t.

  4. Look at the red line on that chart. You small government types would just love to slash and burn spending like that, taking it down to almost nil.

    You can’t see it, but that chart includes an inverse white line that charts the drop in deaths, hunger, druggies, sneezes, stubbed toes, etc that comes with from increased federal spending.

  5. According to government physics, reduced positive acceleration results in reduced velocity.

    1. Yep. We need a new term for “cut”. Perhaps “swelling resulting from a bump”? Paging Dr Maximus …

  6. [NYT speak]The hard-line conservatives in the Republican Party are unwilling to accept $100 billion in budget cuts over the next 10 years.[/NYT speak]

    See, if we just leave out the fact that the budget is in the trillions, $100 billion by itself sounds like a really big number and the fact that Republicans want more cuts makes them look unreasonable.

    1. Does the “average citizen” have *any* appreciation for how 1.4T/1yr compares to 100B/10yrs?

      1. Not when they rely on popular media.

      2. That’s the real problem isn’t it? The numbers have become so absurdly large that most people don’t really grasp the hole we’re in. People who still think billions are a lot just can’t wrap their minds around trillions. If someone wanted to make an impact, they should refer to 1 trillion as 1000 billion. At least until people catch on.

        1. I try to enlighten people with “a million millions”.

      3. Just to be clear here, the sequester leads to “cuts” of $1.1T over 10 years ($1.2T if they reach an agreement). The $100B is approximately the amount shaved from each year’s budget starting in 2013. The 2012 budget rises in the normal “uncut” fashion.

        Nevertheless, the sequester cuts are a factor of ~14 too small to balance the budget.

        It’s all fantasy anyway, even if these “cuts” occur, you can be sure future congresses/administrations will erase them come election time.

      4. so then we should use percentages no?

  7. This old poem I found seems appropriate


    Father, must I go to work?
    No, my lucky son.
    We’re living now on Easy Street
    On dough from Washington.

    We’ve left it up to Uncle Sam
    So don’t get exercised.
    Nobody has to give a damn–
    We’ve all been subsidized.

    But if Sam treats us all so well
    And feeds us milk and honey,
    Please, daddy, tell me what the hell
    He’s going to use for money.

    Don’t worry, bub, there’s not a hitch
    In this here noble plan–
    He simply soaks the filthy rich
    And helps the common man.

    But, father, won’t there come a time
    When they run out of cash
    And we have left them not a dime
    When things will go to smash?

    My faith in you is shrinking, son,
    You nosy little brat:
    You do too damn much thinking, son,
    To be a Democrat.

    1. A long time acquaintance of mine decided we aren’t friends anymore when, after he complained about how little he was getting from the government for “disability”, I remarked how that amount was roughly equal to what is removed from my paychecks every month.

      He got the point.

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