Budget Details Emerge: What’s Cut, What’s Not, What Got Shifted and What Got Shafted
We’re just days from the expected final approval of the 2011 budget, and more specific details are emerging about what exactly both parties are agreeing to pass. The nearly $39 billion in cuts will be coming primarily from environmental sectors and high speed rail plans, but will affect nearly every other line item on the annual budget as well.
One area mostly unscathed is the military, with the Department of Defense getting a $5 billion increase. Still, there is a long list of cuts that will affect military personnel, according to Navy News. Many of the cuts will be from weapons programs or just reductions in surpluses or proposed spending that will not be fulfilled, especially regarding base construction and military housing.
But taking surpluses back or not providing the full amounts that were supposed to be given in original budget spending seems to be much of the accounting gimmicks behind a large chuck of the 2011 budget slashing. The Wall Street Journal reports that federal high speed rail will be defunded of any new projects, bringing any unspent dollars back to the government.
The environment became a particular target of this budget bill, with the Environmental Protection Agency looking at nearly $1.5 billion in cuts, which was half of what the Republicans originally proposed cutting.
Also chopped out of the budget? Czars. But according to Politico, that deal was mostly symbolic — three of the four czars were already out the door.
But symbolic cutting is a key to the 2011 budget. As CBS notes, many of the cuts are coming directly from unspent funds. “For example, $1.7 billion left over from the 2010 census; $3.5 billion in unused children’s health insurance funds; $2.2 billion in subsidies for health insurance co-ops (that’s something the president’s new health care law is going to fund anyway); and $2.5 billion from highway programs that can’t be spent because of restrictions set by other legislation”
Not so symbolic? Nearly $400 million in heating subsidies, funds that will have to be replaced somewhere unless the country now approves of letting the poor freeze to death.
The 2011 budget was supposed to be a budget to curb spending. Instead, it curbs spending mostly on projects that conservatives oppose for ideological reasons, like high-speed rail, environment, and health care reform. Otherwise, the “cuts” are mostly accounting switches and not fully funding projects, or cutting from the vulnerable, like with heating subsidies. But don’t believe the GOP is against spending when it’s something they want. After all, Speaker of the House John Boehner is getting funding for his pet program providing private school vouchers in D.C., and there will also be spending on studies on the “effect of health care reform.”
The budget is expected to be voted on in the House on Wednesday and the Senate on Thursday.