August 10, 2011

Majority of Americans Understand What Government "Cuts" Really Mean

Marc Comtois

I've complained about the "cuts" game played by the government. I'm happy to learn that most people get it:

Congress and presidents have been playing the “spending cuts” game for years, but most voters know what they’re really talking about.

Sixty-two percent (62%) of Likely U.S. Voters understand that when Congress mentions future spending cuts, they’re really saying the growth in government spending will be less than planned. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 19% think it means spending next year will be lower than this year’s. Twenty percent (20%) aren’t sure which is right....

Interestingly, those who are pushing hardest for government spending cuts are the ones who are most aware of what those cuts really mean. Two-out-of-three Republicans and voters not affiliated with either party – 67% - recognize that congressional promises of spending cuts mean the growth of spending will be less than planned, but just 51% of Democrats share that awareness.

Why does the government call these reductions cuts? (Hey, I know you know, but I never tire of this explanation!)
The federal government has been using a process known as Current Services Budgeting since the 1970s to report spending changes. That means the “baseline” for spending is assumed to include all the spending growth that is already built into the federal budget. Much of that growth comes from what the Congressional offices call “uncontrollable spending,” which includes entitlement programs and accounts for the vast majority of all federal spending.

To see the impact of Current Services Budgeting, assume that government is projected to grow by 10% from one-year to the next. If that spending grows by just 5%, Congressional scorekeeping would consider that to be a 5% cut. However, in the real world, an increase in spending by 5% is an increase in spending no matter how you spin it. To be precise, the official numbers would consider that to be a reduction in “current services” but politicians have long since lost that distinction.

Yup, to them and the mainstream media it's a cut.

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And likewise, I'm going to stick with a similar explanation of how my salary was cut this year. Usually the raise pool is 2.25%. This year it was 1.75%. So my pay was cut 0.50%! How can I live on pay cuts?

Posted by: Patrick at August 10, 2011 2:08 PM
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