Today House Republican leaders proposed a bold new plan to save $375 billion over the next five years. So what did they come up with?
Well, according to this document, $317 billion comes from every budget coward's favorite gimmick: an across-the-board spending cap that (a) they know perfectly well will never happen and (b) allows them to avoid mentioning any actual specific cuts. Another $45 billion comes from devoting returned TARP funds to deficit reduction — something that's going to happen over the next five years anyway. That leaves $13 billion in actual targeted cuts. For the arithmetic challenged among you, that's $2.6 billion per year out of a budget of about $3.5 trillion.
That's a reduction of 0.07%.
Every little bit helps, I guess, but for a bunch of fiscal watchdogs they seem curiously unable to find very much in the way of actual wasteful programs that they're willing to stand up and take some lumps for opposing. Instead it's just the usual smoke and mirrors. How tedious.
UPDATE: Actually, looking at this more carefully, something doesn't add up. The GOP brain trust claims to save $317 billion from the cap, $45 billion from TARP, and about $25 billion in targeted cuts. But that comes to $387 billion, not $375 billion. So I guess they can't add either.
Still, if the targeted numbers are correct, they're proposing cuts of 0.14%, not 0.07%. I'll leave it up to you to decide if you're impressed by their budget slashing bona fides.