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Media Bias, Recent News, U.S. Politics

An $85 Billion Rounding Error

In a recent article for the Washington Post, Philip Rucker tries to explain why only some communities seem concerned about sequestration. The sequester “would strike some communities and largely bypass others, cutting across class, politics and geography,” writes Rucker. Ironically, he notes that the “disparity in some ways mirrors the nation’s electoral divide between Democrats and Republicans.”  One could read into this that those who elected big spenders are those most likely to be concerned about or affected by the sequester. Government dependence breeds consternation when programs are cut.

An interesting thing to note is that Rucker, while happy to cite the amounts lost by individual communities, rarely indicates the overall budget of those communities experiencing loss. The reader is therefore left unable to gauge the actual level of hurt facing these communities. For example, Rucker writes that in Los Angeles, “the nation’s second-largest public school district would lose $37 million in federal funding.”

“Schools Superintendent John Deasy said that amounts to about $100,000 per school– ‘easily an employee or employee and a half.’” The article leaves one wondering how many employees this school district has.

With regards to the federal government, readers learn that “The sequester is a package of across-the-board, indiscriminate spending cuts that total $85 billion for the current fiscal year and $1.2 trillion over the next decade.”

“The cuts are split evenly between the defense budget and non-defense discretionary spending, which includes many federal grants to state and local agencies,” continues Rucker. “Mandatory programs, including Social Security and Medicaid, are spared.”

Nowhere does Rucker mention the size of the federal government. Instead, he writes that “And yet the federal government is so sprawling that millions of Americans may never feel any effect from the cuts.” How sprawling is the federal government at this point?

John Merline, a senior writer for Investors Business Daily, covered this issue in a recent interview with Accuracy in Media’s Roger Aronoff. “This is no starvation diet that the government’s going to go on if the sequester happens starting in March,” argued Merline. “$85 billion is almost a rounding error.” The federal budget is $3.6 trillion this year, agreed Aronoff and Merline. Why, then, is President Obama and the media complaining about such a small cut in spending?Because, after this year, it entails not a cut in spending but a cut in the increase in spending over the next ten years. Check out the Rightlinks Blog for more on this.

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