What they call one thing you and I would call another.
And because they use words differently than the rest of us, they have been able to shape how we think about the things they are talking about.
For example, when politicians say they are “cutting spending” what they are doing is just reducing the spending they had already planned.
In other words, if they have budgeted a 10% increase in Pre-K education and back it off to only a 6% increase in Pre-K education, they call that a spending cut.
That’s not a spending cut! That’s a spending INCREASE.
So when these people tell you that they are making the hard decisions, they’re lying to you. They are still increasing spending, they’re just doing it slower than they had previously wanted.
Here’s the bottom line. As shown in the graph, it is quite simple to balance the budget (and permanently extend all of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts) if politicians simply limit spending growth. You can balance the budget within a few years with an overall cap on spending at current-year levels. But if you prefer a more moderate approach, you can let spending increase 2 percent each year and balance the budget by the end of the decade.
So what does this mean? Well, we know that the budget can be balanced (with the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts) if spending grows two percent each year. And we also know that the Fiscal Commission increases the tax burden, yet still doesn’t achieve fiscal balance. So this means that they must be letting spending grow much faster than 2 percent each year. I’m guessing 4-5 percent annual spending growth.
In other words, the Fiscal Commission is asking us to pay higher taxes so that government spending can grow at twice the rate of inflation. That’s not a good deal.
And they’ve been telling us that we have to “CUT” spending to balance the budget. What that means to me is that we spend LESS next year than we spend this year. And that isn’t true. Not at all.
And for some REALLY depressing news, check out how easy it would be to really balance the budget.