Reason yesterday recalled Veronique de Rugy’s nice chart showing how budget “cuts” under sequestration would impact federal spending from 2013-2021. If you listen to the chatter in Washington, these cuts are dangerous and extreme. If you pay attention to what Ms. de Rugy is saying, such talk is nonsense. Unfortunately, de Rugy’s position hasn’t won over Washington (surprise, surprise) or the public. The latter may be worried about the sequester because they think that spending levels that Bill Clinton would find absurd are indeed cruel and unsatisfactory. Or maybe the public actually thinks these are significant real cuts. Here, rhetoric may be to blame. As Ms. de Rugy also points out about budget discussions:
While the sequester projections are nominal spending increases, most budget plans count them as cuts. Referring to decreases in the rate of growth of spending as “cuts” influences public perceptions about the budget. When the public hears “cut,” it thinks that spending has been significantly reduced below current levels, not that spending has increased. Thus, calling a reduced growth rate of projected spending a “cut” leads to confusion, a growing deficit, and an ever-larger burden for future generations.