GOP Proposes Spending Cuts. Are They Serious?

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At nearly $2 trillion, the deficit is a monster. So the GOP has proposed $375 billion of budget cuts to pare it down. That's the good news. The bad news is that when you peak under the hood of the engine, you see two big wrenches. 1) $317 billion of the estimated cuts is just a cap on discretionary spending, which is a make-believe item that will never pass Congress. 2) The new, actionable ideas amount to only $5 billion a year, which is a hardy 0.3% of the estimated deficit.


As the Cato Institute blog points out, if you're aiming to amputate billions of dollars off the budget, why keep defense spending off the operating table? I don't know that we should cut military spending in half, but it is fairly absurd for a party of fiscal conservatism to hold our military budget in such sacred esteem.

Matt Yglesias swats away one of the non-imaginary items, which would cut federal support for bike areas. While I agree with him that bikes are nice -- for the environment, for traffic congestion and for riders --I also think that Tim Fernholtz over at The American Prospect has the right idea that Democrats should take these suggestions seriously. Here are some that seem not crazy:

-Eliminate Wealthier Communities from the Community Development Block Grant Program -- $1.7 Billion
-Require Federal Agencies to Purchase Lowest Cost Vehicles
-Terminate Funding To Promote the Sale of Brand Name Food Products and Alcoholic Beverages (MAP) -- $71.5 Million

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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