After spending some additional time reviewing the budget deal, it keeps looking worse and worse for taxpayers. The deal’s architects are trumpeting the notion that it will reduce the deficit by $23 billion over ten years. This is technically true. But the bill is so incredibly backloaded that it will actually increase the deficit by approximately $26 billion over an eight-year window.
It’s not until the last two years of the deal that things begin to improve. That’s because the largest piece of deficit reduction, $28 billion, comes from merely extending into 2022 and 2023 the mandatory spending caps established by the Budget Control Act of 2011 – the same bill that created the “sequester” many lawmakers have been eager to ditch. If you pull out that provision, you’re left with a bill that would increase the deficit by about $5 billion.
Taxpayers should be very concerned about the ability of Congress to keep long-term spending reductions on the books. But we can all be certain that in the near term, the $63 billion in spending hikes scheduled for 2014 and 2015 will take place.
And there’s the rub when it comes to this bill. Taxpayers are being asked to trade today’s spending hikes for tomorrow’s spending cuts. The deal’s proponents promise us that the cuts will occur because they will be part of the law. But the sequester they are trying to undo is part of the law, too. If Congress can’t be trusted to stick to current law and abide by the sequester’s spending caps, how can it be trusted to pare back spending nine or ten years from now?