Barry Fagin, Politics

Washington's budget 'cuts' are really spending increases

When does spending less mean spending more?  When you’re in Washington. The Democratic Party and the Obama administration, helped by their allies in the media, are winning an Orwellian battle over language. Citizens of good will who still value integrity in politics shouldn’t let them get away with it.

We’ve all heard the typical media spin on the budget negotiations. The Democrats are proposing a “balanced” plan of spending cuts and tax increases, while the Republicans are being dogmatic and unreasonable. After all, who can argue with balance? It makes it seem like the alternative is falling over.

Let me state this as clearly as I can: A “spending cut” is when you spend less money than you did before. It’s not that hard to understand. Think about it: If your family has to cut spending, are you going to spend more, or less? It just couldn’t be any simpler.

Unless you’re in Washington. There, cutting spending means spending less than you were hoping to. That’s a very different thing. Think about it this way.  If you get a 3 percent raise when you were expecting  5 percent, was that a pay cut? If your taxes go up 5 percent when you thought they would go up 10 percent, were your taxes cut? According to Democratic Party Newspeak, the answer is yes.

Why should people of integrity accept such nonsense?

Many in the media, I am sorry to say, are complicit in this deception. How else can we explain last Friday’s New York Times front page headline “Social Programs Facing a Cutback in Obama Budget,” when right below it appears “Smaller increase seen?” Since when is a smaller increase a cutback?

Sometimes a spending cut really is a cut, when dollar outlays actually decline. The current sequester is a good example of that. Since that was originally a Democratic idea, it’s clear Democrats understand what a real spending cut is: One they think Republicans will never agree to. Oops.

But the “cuts” to entitlements proposed by the oh-so-reasonable Democratic-controlled Senate are not real cuts at all. They are “Washington cuts”, merely smaller spending increases. Calling them spending cuts does nothing except get applause from people who don’t know any better.

This wouldn’t be a problem if Democrats’ proposals included fake tax increases to accompany their fake spending cuts. But unlike fake cuts to entitlements, Democratic “balanced” tax increases are quite real. If put into effect, those affected by them would pay more in taxes than they did before. How exactly does that qualify as balanced?

There’s nothing wrong with proposing an actual balanced plan with real tax increases and real spending cuts.  As Congressman Ron Paul has shown, yearly tax increases of 5 percent coupled with true spending cuts of 5 percent would balance the budget in about five years. Reasonable people could have reasonable debates about an integrity-based proposal like that. Instead, the fact that none of the proposed plans will balance the budget for two decades ought to tell you what is really going on.

So it’s not the Republicans who are being unreasonable. Why in the world should they accept fake spending cuts in exchange for real tax increases? Would you?

On the contrary, Republicans are wimps, for letting the Democrats kick their behinds in the war of words. What they need is a super weapon, something that can match the power of the “Washington spending cut.” Fortunately, I have just the thing, revealed here for the very first time. I call it the “Washington tax increase.”

A Washington tax increase is when your tax burden is reduced less than you expect.  Republicans should establish a baseline expectation of a 10 percent tax cut.  Then, during negotiations, they can graciously agree to cutting taxes by only five percent, showing the world how reasonable they are. That “increases taxes” in exactly the same way Democrats “cut spending”.

Think the New York Times would run the headline “Republican Leaders Propose Tax Increase?” Me neither.

Barry Fagin is a senior fellow at the Independence Institute.  This op-ed originally appeared in the Colorado Springs Gazette.

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