No Runny Eggs

The repository of one hard-boiled egg from the south suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (and the occassional guest-blogger). The ramblings within may or may not offend, shock and awe you, but they are what I (or my guest-bloggers) think.

Boehner gets rolled (again), or comparing apples to apples

by @ 13:20 on July 27, 2011. Filed under Budget Chop, Politics - National.

You’re going to see a whole lot of bloviation on how the Congressional Budget Office scored the Harry Reid plan as reducing the growth of the debt far more than the already-scrapped-for-retooling John Boehner plan. What you won’t see nearly as much of is how Reid and the LeftSteamMedia are able to get away with it.

Before I give you the tale of the tape in table form, I’ll explain that it has almost everything to do with the spending on the Global War on Terror (or whatever it’s being called nowadays at the White House). The CBO, in its baseline, assumes that spending on the GWOT will continue to increase at the rate of inflation through the end of FY2021, the end of its 10-year estimation period. That, between FY2012 and FY2021, would be (give or take rounding) $1,590 billion. Both the White House and the House of Representatives, in their budgets, reduced the amount of that spending to $547 billion over that same period, or a $1,043 billion reduction from the CBO baseline. Since the House already passed those cuts in budget form, Boehner told the CBO to not consider that spending in the baseline.

Meanwhile, the Senate has not passed a budget for either FY2011 or FY2012. Harry Reid is using this as the opportunity to effectively sign on to that GWOT spending plan, with a $1,044 billion reduction in GWOT spending relative to the CBO baseline (effectively a rounding error compared to the White House/House of Representatives plan). Because this is also not a true budget, Reid did not specify which year or years those cuts would need to be made, which is something both the White House and the House of Representatives did. Even though the CBO separated the raw effect of the cuts in spending on the GWOT from the “cuts” elsewhere in the discretionary budget, they did so in a clumsy way. Therefore, I decided to redo the first and third tables from each CBO summary to put the two plans back on the same playing field.

There is one more thing to keep in mind while looking at the charts – there is supposed to be another $1.8 trillion in “cuts” from a bipartisan commission in the Boehner plan that is, due to the lack of ANY detail, not scored by the CBO. Likewise, there’s a bipartisan commission in the Reid plan that is supposed to keep the deficit at or below 3% of GDP, which is, in the quick take, a bunch of Bravo Sierra. I’ll get back to that after the charts.

Note: There was a rather big error on the first chart I had up. As I did not save it in Excel, I decided to pull it entirely rather than spend time reworking something where a third of the data has been rendered moot.

Next, the net effect of the duelling pieces of legislation on the deficit (which includes Reid’s further cuts on farm subsidies and additional revenues from “re-auctioning” of various radio frequencies). I had to re-estimate the effect of the reduced debt service because that was not broken down by GWOT versus non-GWOT spending/revenue changes on the Reid proposal, and that re-estimation, bumped back up against the CBO’s estimate from House proposal, was low by $5 billion (again, click for the full-sized table):

Boehner managed to back-load things rather badly the first time around, and he got schooled by Reid even once the spending on the Global War On Terror gets discounted, at least when the “scored” items are counted. However, that does not quite tell the whole story.

Remember what I said about the Reid commission to bring deficits down to 3% of GDP? If the extended-baseline from the CBO can be believed, the only two years of the next 10 that the deficit would be above 3% of GDP are FY2012 and FY2013. Since Congress is dealing with, or at least is supposed to be dealing with, the FY2012 appropriations process right now, I’ll assume the commission won’t be able to affect that massive deficit. FY2013’s deficit under the Reid plan would be scored at $592 billion, or a mere $100 billion less than the $492 billion that is 3% of the estimated $16,400 billion GDP.

Meanwhile, Boehner’s commission would have a hard $1,800 billion in additional deficit reductions to come up with. Even if one applied the usual Boehner-to-reality conversion rate, that would result in a much larger reduction in deficit than the Reid plan, at least assuming that the adjusted CBO extended-baseline scenario of $5,807 billion in deficits or the House budget scenario of $5,088 billion in deficits is anything near reality.

Revisions/extensions (1:23 pm 7/27/2011) – There’s more from Ed Morrissey, who somehow forgot that one plan raises the debt ceiling by about $0.9 trillion to get us barely into 2012 while the other raises it the $2.5 trillion Obama needs to get past November 2012.

R&E part 2 (6:56 pm 7/27/2011) – After what can only be described as a “minimum effort” (namely, a revision of FY2012 and FY2013 caps), Boehner Verison 1.0.1 does barely beat Reid 1.0. I won’t redo the graphics, but the bottom line is:

  • FY2012 discretionary spending change is -$25 billion from the adjusted baseline, $2 billion better than Reid’s plan
  • FY2012 net deficit change from the adjusted baseline is -$21 billion, $4 billion better than Reid’s plan
  • FY2013 discretionary spending change is -$47 billion, $1 billion better than Reid’s plan
  • FY2013 net deficit change (excluding debt service, which is a somewhat-shaky estimation) from the adjusted baseline is -$41 billion, $3 billion better than Reid’s plan
  • The subtotal net deficit change (again excluding debt service) is -$758 billion, $3 billion better than Reid’s plan

R&E part 3 – 8:46 am 7/29/2011) – I screwed up the math on the Memorandum portion of Table 1, affecting the CBO assumption for GWOT funding. I have pulled the chart.

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