A Very Big Fuss About a Very Little Thing

Earlier this week and amid great fanfare, the Trump administration sent to Congress a proposal to cut federal spending by $15 billion, the implicit message being that while other people sit around talking about cutting spending, this administration is actually doing something about it.

Only it’s not true.

What the proposal actually does is take off the books $15 billion that Congress authorized the federal government to spend in the past but that it never actually spent – money from last year or the year before or even the year before that. In fact, it would be illegal for the federal government to spend this money because the legal authorization for such spending has expired.  Normally, Congress – in this case, both parties – likes to keep this kind of money on the books to offset new spending it proposes – as if that’s even remotely honest.  It’s a shell game that for once Congress is claiming that it’s wrong – wrong, they tell you! – to play.

So if you read about someone complaining about how this latest proposal will cut some major program – the one getting all the attention is the children’s health insurance program, usually referred to as CHIP – just ignore it.  The CHIP money they’re proposing to cut was from last year and wasn’t spent, and all they want to do is take it off the books.

Methinks I shall call this “Much Ado About Nothing.”

Likewise, if you read about someone bragging about how they’re cutting federal spending, ignore that, too – because this proposal doesn’t cut federal spending at all.  Not a dime.

But it gives some politicians, and of course Agent Orange, a reason – an illegitimate, deceptive reason, but a reason nonetheless – to go around pounding on their chests and insisting that they’re cutting unnecessary federal spending.

But they’re not.  They’re not cutting anything.

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