Tad DeHaven

The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold recently took a look at the $38 billion in spending cuts that Republicans and Democrats agreed to in 2011 in order to avoid a government shutdown. Fahrenthold estimates that $17 billion of those “cuts” were little more than budgetary gimmicks. For instance, $6 billion in authorized spending for the previous year’s decennial census were merely wiped off the books and counted as a “cut.” 

Fahrenthold’s piece is a good reminder of how unserious politicians from both parties are about cutting spending. But I want to make two additional points. 

First, real or not, let’s not forget that the $38 billion in “cuts” were a drop in the bucket that year compared to total spending, the deficit, and even interest on the debt: 


Second, unless entire agencies or programs are terminated, spending cuts will probably end up only being temporary. Following the 2011 agreement, I demonstrated this by noting that many of the programs that were cut were also cut in a 1995 deal: 

Tad DeHaven

Tad DeHaven is a budget analyst at the Cato Institute. Previously he was a deputy director of the Indiana Office of Management and Budget. DeHaven also worked as a budget policy advisor to Senators Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Tom Coburn (R-OK).