Why Government Promises For Spending Cuts Can’t Be Trusted


When Congress and the President are negotiating some fiscal bargain we always hear about a certain number of billions of dollars in “spending cuts” (more like spending growth rate reductions) that will be included in the package. What doesn’t get mentioned as often is that these “cuts” don’t take place immediately. Most of the time they’re scheduled to take place over a 10-year window, with the heaviest cuts almost always taking place at the end of the window rather than the front.

It’s a neat political gimmick that allows politicians to throw around big numbers for spending cuts without actually having to worry about spending getting cut any time soon. The truth is, because Congress passes a budget every single year rather than once a decade, that most of these cuts don’t happen.

Case in point, via Jim Pethokoukis, here’s the Congressional Budget Office’s 10-year budget forecast from 2002 which predicted that national debt would only be 7.4% of GDP in 2012 (it was 32.7% of GDP in 2002):


Obviously, that’s not what happened. Not only did our national debt, in terms of the economy, not shrink to less than 10% it actually more than doubled, ballooning to 72.8%:


Why didn’t our national debt shrink in proportion to the economy? Part of the problem is the economy itself. We’ve had a major contraction thanks to the economic collapse in 2008 and 2009. But part of the problem too is that Congress and the President didn’t stick to that 10-year plan for spending they created in 2002. Instead they created new budgets every year. They created new programs and entitlements (most notably the prescription drug entitlement) and padded bills with all the pork they needed to satisfy parochial interests and keep themselves in power.

So when you hear this Congress, and this President, talk about 10 years worth of spending cuts a part of some “fiscal cliff” bargain, don’t believe them. It never really happens that way.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

Related posts

  • http://pocketjacksblog.blogspot.com Jay W.

    Type the words “baseline budgeting” into your favorite search engine.

    • sbark

      …….that can be applied to any political level…..N.Dak, County, citiy etc etc…..
      Maybe that is the grassroots push that could be started—-Zero based budgeting for every poltical level……….ie every expense gets reveiw at every budget timetable vrs the present arguement of just how much automatic increase……
      I could see that as being much more palatable to even the sheeple masses in the cities vrs say Meas 2………

  • Camburn

    This is why it is so critical at this time to get this done.


  • Thresherman

    When it comes to cutting spending, Democrats lie. They lied to Reagan, they lied to Bush 41and they have lied to us again and again and again. They lie when they say that a tax increase will be for the reduction of the deficit when they know full well that all they are going to do is ramp up the spending even more. If you cut the tongue out of every Democrat who lied about spending cuts, their national convention would consist of a thunderous silence.

    • http://ndgoon.blogspot.com Goon

      Lets just call the dems liars then… The Democrats will not stop spending till they bilk the last dollar out of the country.

      • Thresherman


        • $8194357

          leftist fool tools..

    • banjo kid

      You could say that every time they speak they lie.Careful on the fiscal cliff it is a diversion . Look for something much bigger to come our way the first of the year than just taxes .

      • Thresherman

        The hilarious thing is that they spent 12 years saying that the Bush tax cuts were just tax breaks for the wealthy, but now when there is a risk of them expiring, it is suddenly a huge tax increase on the middle class.

        Next on Ophat, Lying Liberal Liars and the Lies That They Tell.

      • $8194357

        It is all a house of cards and illusion with pre determined outcome.

  • http://proof-proofpositive.blogspot.com/ Proof

    Most politicians who propose multi-year spending/ cutting proposals always seem to frontload the plan with spending, and the cuts, which never materialize, supposedly take place after said politicians have retired, and those burdens cannot be imposed on whatever happens to be the current crop of politicians, who made no such promises.

    Bottom line, they aren’t real cuts unless next year’s budget spends less than this year’s.

  • matthew_bosch

    Ha…I’ll just go ahead and buy this Bugatti Veryon on 100% credit because according to my own projections I will have cut spending to afford it in 10 years.

  • http://Sayanythingblog.com The Whistler

    I’ll bet that the forecast from ten years ago was fairly close revenue wise, but the spending was much much higher than what was forecasted.

    • silverstreak

      I prefer to use Obama’s favorite word…UNEXPECTEDLY!

  • Yogibare

    This gimmick is used time after time; the news media never catches on!
    Secondly: the revenue (taxes) always kick in immediately—sometimes retroactively. The spending cuts are always projected out in the later years; hence, the the “new” budget and projections are always laid out over ten years. The “cuts” come in the later years, doncha know?

    • silverstreak

      And the ugly secret that the MSM fails to point out is that no future Congress is bound to adhere to any present spending cut deal.

    • banjo kid

      The news media catches on they just do not report it

  • silverstreak

    Great News
    Harry Reid says paying all taxes in this country is voluntary.
    So…if you don’t like the way the government is spending our money,then just stop paying them.
    Of course Ole Scrambled Brains does admit that there may be civil and criminal penalties for not paying.
    Gee…ya think?
    Strangely…I guess Harry has never heard of duress.
    But…it appears a lot of lawmakers have trouble complying with the very laws that they legislate.


    Well…I know what it is and I don’t trust any of them to tell the truth about anything!


  • banjo kid

    Government can be trusted to do one thing and that is advance their pocket books. The government right now is at the place our founders said would be a good time dissolve and make a new one.

  • $8194357

    Why is a broke America paying the Muslim brotherhood for middle eastern/
    Egyptian Christian genocide?


    “You are playing with fire in Egypt, I swear,
    the first people to be burned by the fire are you – the Christian Copts”

    Muslim Cleric threatens Coptic Christians with genocide as Islamic leaders continue to portray the popular protests against President Morsi and his recently passed Sharia-based constitution as products of Egypt’s Christians.
    And Barack Hussein Obama just sent Morsi another
    $1.5 billion in American taxpayer dollars.

  • $8194357

    What American funded Christian genocide?


    Cleric to Egypt’s Copts: America Can’t Protect You from Genocide Gatestone Institute, Raymond Ibrahim, December 28, 2012 (thanks to The Religion of Peace)

    “The day Egyptians…feel you are against them, you will be wiped off the face of the Earth.” — Dr. Wagdi Goneim

    Islamic leaders continue to portray the popular protests against President Morsi and his recently passed Sharia-heavy constitution as products of Egypt’s Christians. Recently, Muslim Brotherhood leader Safwat Hegazy said in an open rally, as captured on video:

    A message to the church of Egypt, from an Egyptian Muslim: I tell the church — by Allah, and again, by Allah — if you conspire and unite with the remnants [opposition] to bring Morsi down, that will be another matter…. our red line is the legitimacy of Dr. Muhammad Morsi. Whoever splashes water on it, we will splash blood on him.”

  • LibertyFargo

    “The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first.” – Thomas Jefferson

  • $8194357

    Americas POTUS or the internationalist POSER?
    Why trust a communist?