One of DC’s sillier arguments–a very competitive category–is the claim that you’re not really cutting a program when you reduce its growth rate.
Apparently, Congressman Ryan was unhappy with a new CBPP post pointing out that most–69%–of his budget cuts come from programs that serve low or moderate income people. As CBPP’s Bob Greenstein points out: [my bold, btw]
Responding to the 69 percent figure, the Chairman shifted direction in a new piece that he inserted this week in the Congressional Record. He claimed these cuts aren’t really “cuts” at all; instead, they are simply smaller spending increases than would otherwise occur. “A smaller increase is not a spending cut,” he wrote.
Well, two problems:
First, the Chairman is trying to have it both ways. At the very start of his “Pathway to Prosperity,” he writes, “The House Republican budget cuts spending by $5.1 trillion over the next ten years.” Apparently, he wants to brag to congressional budget cutters that his plan cuts spending deeply, while convincing critics of his budget cuts that they aren’t really “cuts” at all.
Second, the latter argument — that a cut isn’t really a “cut” — makes little sense. For many programs, it costs more to provide the same services for its beneficiaries from year to year, because of inflation. In addition, the population is aging and, thus, more people qualify for programs for elderly Americans each year. For these reasons, the cost of providing the same level of benefits and services to people who qualify rises for various programs from year to year in nominal dollars — that is, in dollars not adjusted for inflation, population growth, or the population’s aging.
A budget allocation that doesn’t cover cost increases due to these factors means either that eligible recipients will see their services or benefits cut, or that some people who would otherwise qualify for those services or benefits are turned away.
So if Rep. Ryan himself is comfortable calling it a cut, so are we. Because that’s what it is.