Past Budget Disappointment Leads Some to Favor Sequestration

Sunday, 10 Feb 2013 01:36 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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The agreement two years ago to cut $37.8 billion from the federal budget appears to have fallen far short of President Obama’s assessment at the time that it marked “the largest annual spending cut in our history.”

Many of the cuts didn't cut anything. For example, the Transportation Department got credit for cutting a $280 million tunnel from its budget, even though the tunnel had already been canceled.

Such gimmicks meant federal agencies absorbed $23 billion in reductions without losing any employees, reports The Washington Post.

Back in 2011, both parties agreed to the cuts, with the president lauding them and Republicans cheering the deal as a path to financial austerity, according to the Post.

Republican Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina says that in reality many of the cuts were “smoke and mirrors” and that budget cuts in Washington speak don't “mean the same thing that normal people mean.”

Now, two years later, many lawmakers are embracing the sequester and its across-the-board cuts.

While both Obama and GOP leaders have said they don't like the idea of across-the-board budget cuts, many conservatives say they can at least count on sequestration to bring real cuts.

The change can be attributed in part to the 2011 experience.

“The administration offered, and the Republican leadership accepted, cuts in stores of funding that . . . were unlikely to be used in the future,” recalled former Obama administration official Richard Korgan, who is now with the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

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