American Sauce: Beware Biden’s Math
March 31st, 2011
02:40 PM ET
3 years ago

American Sauce: Beware Biden’s Math

Capitol Hill (CNN) – Wednesday, Vice President Joe Biden beamed that Congress and the White House were circling around “$73 Billion” in budget cuts.


But that’s not $73 Billion in real-people dollars. That’s $73 Billion in imaginary, government-speak dollars.

How much is it actually? Keep reading.

The fuzzy budget cut math is not limited to Democrats. In fact, Republicans arguably kicked off this latest round of fun with statistics by presenting what they called “$100 billion” in spending cuts, but which were actually $61 Billion in decreases from the last government spending bill.

What’s Going On?

The vice president’s “$73 Billion” in cuts, and the Republicans’ initial “$100 Billion” number, are both reductions from President Obama’s proposed 2010 budget, which was never passed. That’s the key point. That proposed, larger budget, never became reality.

It’s a bit like a college kid who asked his parents to buy him a car and was turned down, but who then tried to count the lack of a car as a “spending cut” the next year. The money was never allocated for spending in the first place.

In reality, government has slogged along under 2009 spending amounts. So, to “cut spending” (actual spending), would mean to reduce from that current spending level.

Politicians could theoretically argue that they are still “cutting” when they compare numbers to Obama’s proposed, theoretical, never-became-reality budget. But they are only cutting their own fantasy budget, on paper. It is not the same as cutting actual dollars that agencies expect to spend.

So, How Much is Really Being Cut?

The “deal” announced by Biden would cut $33 Billion in actual, current spending. That’s how much of government agency’s expected budgets would be cut immediately if this plan wins out.

All Proposals and Cuts, Apples To Apples

Cuts So Far: $10 Billion in immediate cuts to current spending. That is the total passed in two separate short-term spending bills.

Republicans: The House passed $61 Billion in cuts to current spending in February.

Senate Democrats: Recently said they would support $30 Billion total in current spending cuts total. But they are now grouped with Biden’s deal.

Biden’s “deal”: VP Biden’s words mean a cut of approximately $33 Billion from current spending.

Want more on the spending, deficit and government shutdown math? Listen to this week’s American Sauce podcast here.


Follow Lisa Desjardins on Twitter: @LisaDCNN

You can also listen to American Sauce on iTunes, Stitcher or subscribe to the podcast via RSS.


Filed under: American Sauce • Congress
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    How can the baggers take credit and brag about shutting down government, when Boner and Cantor are blaming the democrats for not complying to their destruction of America? If the GOP had not extended the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, we would not have to cut programs.

    March 31, 2011 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  2. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Fuzzy math is how the republicans come up with the ideas that tax cuts to the wealthy really won't cost any money, and repealing health reform won't add to the debt. Factor in the loss of 700,000 jobs with the republican congressional budget, and we will have that full fledged depression that the republicans tried to give us during the Bush/republican debacle.

    March 31, 2011 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  3. terry,va

    All politicians are liars when it comes to money. Obummie and Biden are bigger ones than normal. I think we should have auditors picked by both parties should examine budgets. I'm not talking about the CBO, which is a prostitute of the administration, I'm talking about someone that will tell the truth and not be bound by phony numbers and assumptions they are given.

    March 31, 2011 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  4. U.S. Common Sense

    Congress needs to stop trying to protect their sacred cows and make some serious spending reductions, and I mean "serious." $100 Billion (in real dollars) would be a nice start, but we can (and must) cut even more. At the same time, we need to get rid of this current mess of a tax system and implement a flat tax. One single rate, high threshold for the poor, and an elimination of most deductions will put us back on a sane and practical fiscal footing.

    March 31, 2011 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  5. California Conservative

    Biden Math, Liberal Math it's all the very same thing. It never works either.

    March 31, 2011 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    Who cares what the number is if the "news" media and the rest of them NEVER BOTHER TO TELL US WHAT IS BEING CUT AND WHO IT WILL EFFECT THE MOST???

    Fix the revenue problem and stop trying to fix the whole problem on the backs of the middle-class and poor. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

    March 31, 2011 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  7. Ryche

    Hmm.. i sure hope you all read that.. the 2010 obama budget, WHICH DID NOT PASS... hahahahhahaha... wow you just cant make this stuff up... One of the sole responsibilities of congress is to pass a budget... its againt the constition to NOT pass a budget... just another reason to impeach... geez what a buffoon you libs elected into office...

    March 31, 2011 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  8. Rudy NYC

    Here's what I did not understand with the Bush tax cut votes. They held two votes, each of which defined a different income level to be eligible for the "middle class" tax cut. That was a waste of time.

    They should have held a vote for the middle class tax cuts, and another vote for the "upper class" tax cuts, in that exact order. I think someone was just too chicken to do it, or too blind to see it.

    March 31, 2011 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |