Iffy spending cuts part of budget pact

AP News
Posted: Apr 09, 2011 5:47 PM
Iffy spending cuts part of budget pact

Almost half of the budget cuts, some $18 billion, in the budget pact between President Barack Obama don't involve cuts to agency operating accounts spending hawks like to target. They involve cuts to so-called mandatory programs whose budgets run mostly on autopilot. Such cuts officially "score" as savings that could be used to pay for spending elsewhere, but they often have little real impact in terms of cutting the deficit.

They include:

_$2.5 billion in leftover highway money unavailable under current budget caps.

_$500 million from reforms to the Pell Grant program.

_$3.5 billion in unused Children's Health Insurance Program funds.

_$5 billion in "phantom" savings from capping payments from a Justice Department trust fund for crime victims. Under arcane budget rules, appropriators can claim year after year the full amount of money in the trust fund.

_$400 million in similar savings from capping a Treasury fund to help pay for the department's crime-fighting efforts.

_$2.2 billion in cuts to subsidies for health care cooperatives.