Obama claim of cutting spending is not right

McClatchy NewspapersSeptember 28, 2012 

THROW THE FLAG ON: President Barack Obama.

CALL: Offside.

WHAT HAPPENED: In an ad this week, the president touted "the $1 trillion in spending we’ve already cut."

The two-minute ad has Obama posing the question : "So what’s my plan?" He describes four parts.

"Fourth," he says, "a balanced plan to reduce our deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade. On top of the $1 trillion in spending we’ve already cut, I’d ask the wealthy to pay a little more. And as we end the war in Afghanistan, let’s apply half the savings to pay down our debt and use the rest for some nation-building right here at home. It’s time for a new economic patriotism, rooted in the belief that growing our economy begins with a strong, thriving middle class. Read my plan. Compare it to Gov. Romney’s and decide for yourself."

WHY THAT’S WRONG: He didn’t cut $1 trillion. Spending goes up over the next decade, not down.

Here’s what happened.

Congress last year approved $917 billion in cuts from projected spending over the coming decade. Not actual spending.

Federal spending totaled $3.6 trillion in fiscal 2011, the period that ended Sept. 30, 2011, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. This fiscal year, which ends Sunday, total spending is expected to decline to $3.56 trillion, and decline further to $3.554 trillion next year.

But those two brief cuts total just $49 billion over the two years – well short of $1 trillion. And after that, spending starts to rise again, and by 2015 should again top the 2011 figure. By the end of the 10-year period in 2021, the CBO projects federal spending of $5.5 trillion.

The Obama campaign said the $1 trillion figure was shaved off of the projected spending, which was set to increase even more. "That is the official methodology required by law and used for all legislation," said campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith.

Only in Washington do people project spending to increase, then decide to increase it but by less, then say they cut spending.

Also, Obama in his ad says that “we” did it.

But the measure passed the House of Representatives with more Republican than Democratic support – 174 Republicans and 95 Democrats voted yes, while 95 Democrats and 66 Republicans were opposed.

The next day in the Senate, the plan passed 74-26 with bipartisan support.

The measure was approved only after weeks of tense White House-congressional negotiations – negotiations the Obama administration did not want – that broke a tense stalemate and allowed the nation’s debt limit to be raised.

PENALTY: Five yards.

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