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Same Old Budget Deal: ‘I Splurge Now, You Save Later’

Don’t believe any of the hype about how congressional spreadsheet-wizards supposedly “fixed” the budget in new budget deal.

This is the same “deal” that we get out of the Beltway every year – splashed gallons of red ink today, with a vague promise of sober black print in ten years or so.

Today’s Congress is telling us they’ll spend an extra $122 billion now, blowing off all our hard-won spending caps like so many champagne corks… but four Congresses from now, the Washington sky will be filled with the fluttering wings of deficit hawks, and they’ll cut spending like crazy, just you wait and see!

It’s a bit like listening to the proverbial drunken sailor promise that his great-great-great grandchildren will fix the family’s ruined finances and balance the books at last.

According to The Hillthe Congressional Budget Office “had originally determined that the two-year budget pact was $14 billion short of covering the increased funding authorized by the bill.  But congressional leaders worked late Tuesday to cover the difference by rewriting language related to combat costs and increasing a fee-hike on pension plans.”

This led to a new CBO report, less than 24 hours later, “confirming that the budget deal, which boosts funding by $80 billion over the next two years, is paid for in full.”  Of course, the only part of the budget that seemed of genuine concern to anyone on Capitol Hill was military funding.

But as the Heritage Foundation points out, most of the budget offsets don’t kick in until the very last year of the ten-year budget forecast, 2025.

“Between this Boehner-Obama deal and the Ryan-Murray spending agreement of 2013 (the last time Congress revisited the discretionary spending caps), Congress has increased spending by a total of $143 billion before 2021 (the period covered by the Budget Control Act) paid for with $98 billion in savings not realized until after 2021,” writes Paul Winfree for Heritage.

“As we know from past experience, these ‘savings’ sometimes never materialize because they’re so far into the future,” Winfree sardonically observes.

This is ridiculous. It’s like watching a junkie line up his next billion fixes, while promising he has serious plans to get clean someday.

Look at the Heritage graphic of how this budget deal works – presumably drafted before the “fixes” from the past 24 hours were factored in by CBO, but still accurate in its overall shape – and take a guess at what will actually happen in 2019, especially under President Hillary Clinton or President Bernie Sanders:

heritage_budget_chart

Look at it this way: what about our current political and economic situation makes anyone think fiscal restraint will get easier as the nation drifts onwards, atop a flood of red ink crowned with whitecaps of dependency?

Everything the big spenders are talking about doing over the next decade involves weakening the unacceptably independent middle class and getting it hooked on welfare programs, from ObamaCare subsidies and Medicaid expansion to “free” college tuition.  All of those programs will be riddled with the usual level of Big Government corruption, graft, and inefficiency, combined with the usual incorrect assumptions about human nature, leading to “unexpected” cost overruns.

Also, at some point in the next few years, the debt monster will start biting Uncle Sam in the posterior.  The cost of debt service will increase, and the economy will slow down… combining with an aging population to leave a smaller tax income stream funding a budget increasingly consumed by mandatory entitlement and debt spending.  Our Ruling Class will tell us we have no choice but to accept higher taxes, or higher deficits – probably both.  Right this very moment, it’s telling us the government can’t manage meaningful fiscal discipline at a time of record-high tax receipts.

Today’s Congress cannot truly bind the successors to the successors of its successors.  Politicians constantly promise to impose discipline on the future, but in reality, they can only dump obligations on it. Here’s another $143 billion in past-due bills, people of 2025!  Good luck cutting any of that spending back!

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