Smart Talk on Sequester Myths

March 4th, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Two avowed centrists, Tom Mann and Norm Ornstein, have a nice “myths” piece in yesterday’s WaPo.  I’m running off to do the Diane Rehm radio show on this stuff, so no time to summarize, but I particularly liked this point:

2. At least the automatic cuts will reduce runaway spending and begin to control the deficit.

What runaway spending? The $787 billion stimulus was a one-time expenditure that has come and gone. Under current law, not including the sequester, non-defense discretionary spending as a share of the economy will shrink to a level not seen in 50 years. Defense spending grew substantially over the past decade, but that pattern has slowed and will soon end. Additional reductions must be achieved intelligently, tied to legitimate national security needs.

Across-the-board cuts can have perverse effects on deficits; as services are cut, the fees users pay for those services are lost. For example, sequester-driven furloughs of air-traffic controllers will lead to the number of flights being reduced.

The annual budget deficit is projected to fall by almost 50 percent in 2013 compared with the height of the recession. Reducing the deficit over the long term requires going where the money is — boosting economic growth, controlling health-care costs and increasing revenue to handle the expense of an aging population [my bold: JB]. Deeper discretionary-spending cuts are counterproductive; immediate cuts, as Europe has made, could lead to a recession and bigger deficits.

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2 comments in reply to "Smart Talk on Sequester Myths"

  1. Shanna Carson says:

    We need a freeze of governement expenses. We should only maintain essential spending. After all, if it’s not absolutely necessary, why are we spending money on it? Our children are getting further in debt before they are even born…

    • Jo Fox Burr says:

      Our children will be far worse off with these cuts because of the impact it will have education funding. Forget having to pay off an imaginary national debt, what about their own personal well-being? Without an adequate education, the likelihood of many of them becoming successful enough to make enough money to even live modestly is essentially non-existent.

      This comment is very narrowly focused. It argues for small government because it accepts that small government is good because small government is good because… I don’t why. Because you don’t want to have regulations like those imposed by those monitoring our food quality, drug quality, banking practices, quality of education… Hum, I kind like these things.