I’ve managed up to this point to refrain from writing much about the sequester cuts in government spending for fear that my sarcasm would reveal how I really feel and would damage any credibility I might have for being “fair and balanced” in my commentary, to borrow a phrase from Fox News (that is anything but).
But this from MSN nearly did me in. Talk about excessive hype:
Economists and lawmakers alike agree that the cuts, the potential shutdown and the country’s series of fiscal crises overall are hurting the country’s shaky comeback from the Great Recession, and the effects will be felt around the world. Both political parties have said the cuts — of 5 percent to domestic agencies and 8 percent to the military— could inflict major damage to government programs and the economy at large.
This is just plain silly. “Felt around the world?” “Major damage to government programs?” “And [to] the economy at large?”
A little math will help here. Assuming that the $85 billion in cuts is correct, and assuming that they kick in today, that’s $85 billion a year out of government spending projected by some to reach nearly $4 trillion this year. That works out to be 2.1%. If the government were a household – the average American household income is about $50,000 a year – a cut of 2.1% would translate into a cut of $1,050 a year, or about $88 a month. That’s just under $3 a day. Or less than a Starbucks (so I’m told).
Question: how much would that impact the average household? Would there be loud noises emanating from the kitchen? Would there be loud banging on the walls? Would there be tossing of pots and pans? Would there be screaming?
But it gets better. These “cuts” are cuts only in expected “increases” in government spending. It’s a slight reduction in the rate of growth of spending.
But Obama, ever speaking the truth in love, said Wednesday night that the cuts would result in a “tumble downward” for the economy.
In addition, most of those “cuts” are back-ended, meaning that any effect, positive or negative, won’t be felt for years:
There is breathing room, however, for political settlement if Friday’s deadline comes and goes. Many of the cuts to hit the Defense Department and other federal agencies would come in later years and could be partially offset by cuts in programs that are wasteful or behind schedule.
I’m doing my best to hold it in. So far I’m doing pretty well, don’t you think?