Congress focused on issues surrounding government spending this week as talk of deficits, the national debt, and the debt limit saturated the airwaves. This is a positive development. In years past, there was very little concern over how much was spent here in Washington, how it was spent, or how much of our gross domestic product was being consumed by government. That blissful ignorance naturally resulted in decades of government spending with impunity, bringing us to where we are today: trillions in debt with astronomical entitlement obligations that will be impossible to fulfill in the not too distant future. So it is a good thing that there is so much political pressure now on our leaders to actually put the brakes on runaway spending.
However, even the most generous estimate of the spending cut passed this week – $38.5 billion – is a paltry 3.5% of the $1.05 trillion in spending through the next 5 months. This hardly makes a dent in our government's mountain of debt. Even worse than that, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) stripped away the accounting sleights of hand and scored it as only $352 million in cuts, which works out to less than half of one percent of spending. Still, the tiniest cut is better than the massive increases we have become accustomed to in federal budgets.
Of course, our disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are not even included in this budget as they are considered emergency spending. They constitute $3.3 billion in spending in the same period of time, so they more than cancel out any small cuts the warmongers may crow about.