02.12.2013 0

A typical Washington illusion

U.S. Capitol Dome

Photo Credit: cliff1066/Flickr

By Adam Bitely — In typical Washington fashion, politicians are claiming to have made bold moves while doing anything but.

A recent Washington Post report outlines that the $37 billion of “cuts” to government spending that were a part of the deal reached by Republicans and Democrats in April of 2011 to avoid a government shutdown failed to actually cut much of anything. In fact, many of the programs and projects — at least $17 billion — that were nixed were not real to begin with.

As the Washington Post reported that the legislation “turned out to be an epic kind of Washington illusion. It was stuffed with gimmicks that made the cuts seem far bigger — and the politicians far bolder — than they actually were. In the real world, in fact, many of their ‘cuts’ cut nothing at all. The Transportation Department got credit for ‘cutting’ a $280 million tunnel that had been canceled six months earlier. It also ‘cut’ a $375,000 road project that had been created by a legislative typo, on a road that did not exist.”

Some of the “cuts” mentioned in the Post’s report bordered the absurd, such as the cut made by the Census Bureau. Republicans and Democrats took credit for cutting $6 million from the Census Bureau budget. However, the cut was based on the fact that the Census Bureau would not conduct a census in 2011, which they would never have done anyways since the census had been conducted in 2010. This was not a cut at all, just a realization of reality.

For the most part, the government was able to escape making any cut of actual substance following the budget cuts of April 2011. Further, not a single government employee found themselves unemployed in the aftermath of that deal.

But to see how Washington politicians described the deal at the time one would believe that they had just slashed and burned the budget.

President Obama called this the “largest annual spending cut in our history.”

House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) said, “I applaud the leadership of Speaker Boehner in securing tens of billions of dollars in spending cuts, forcing the President and his party’s leaders to retreat from their reckless spending spree. The historic spending cut turns the page from Washington’s pervasive culture of spending, sending a welcome signal to job creators and cleaning up the unprecedented budget mess left by the last Congress.”

Paul Ryan is right; this was indeed a retreat — from actual spending cuts.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) described the cuts as follows, “This legislation is a bold move for Congress — one that points us in the right direction on federal spending. Never before has any Congress made dramatic cuts such as those that are in this final bill.”

The only thing dramatic about all of this was the way those involved in making the “cuts” acted.

One of the few in Congress who has told the truth about these cuts is Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) who told the Post, “Many of the cuts we put in were smoke and mirrors.” Indeed.

As Washington is now panicking over the looming sequester in similar fashion to the budget cuts of April 2011, seeing that the effects of the “largest annual spending cut in our history” and the “bold move” taken by Congress in April of 2011 had little effect on actual government spending makes these Washington charlatans appear to be the boy who cried wolf.

Unfortunately, the only victims of this Washington, D.C. illusion are the taxpayers who are forced to pay more for the illusion of leadership offered in Washington while they peddle propaganda so thick you can cut it with a knife.

Adam Bitely is the Editor-in-Chief of NetRightDaily.com. You can follow NetRightDaily on Twitter at @NetRightDaily.

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