FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Only in Washington
For those of us who are not schooled in the ways of Washington, here is a glimpse into the duplicity of the “budget savings” as part of the fiscal cliff negotiations.
House Agriculture Chairman Frank D. Lucas has raised hopes that Congress might still be able to produce a multi-year farm bill soon, possibly as part of a package to block impending tax increases and spending cuts.
Lucas says Speaker John A. Boehner has indicated that the billions of savings over 10 years that a farm bill provides makes it an attractive option for legislation to avoid a combination of budget sequester and across-the-board spending cuts known as the fiscal cliff. The chairman had no details on timing, but people following the legislation say movement would have to occur by the first week of December. (CQ subscription)
Let’s do some rudimentary math. The last farm bill, which was enacted in 2008, authorized $604 billion in spending. The current House bill proposed by Lucas (HR 6083) authorizes $957 billion in spending extrapolated over 10 years. Yet, this 58% increase is considered a cut in ‘Washington speak’ because the phony CBO baseline, which locks in Obama’s food stamp spending, projects $992 billion in spending. Hence, passage of the farm bill, which locks in the record food stamp spending and creates new farm welfare programs, will be scored as a spending cut – to the extent that it can be used for the spending cut side of the ‘grand bargain.’
This is almost as bad as Republicans agreeing to use the war spending – money that will never be spent – as part of budget savings.
When the rubber meets the road at the end of the year, we will wind up with tax increases in exchange for spending increases that are disguised as budget savings. That is why we are so “intransigent” about raising taxes.