Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fiscal cliff spending cuts in a nutshell

The cliff is "across-the-board cuts of $1.2 trillion in both defense and non-defense programs, starting in 2013."
 Key parts of the cuts include

-" caps on new, Congress-approved spending on defense programs will be reduced from 10 percent in 2013 to 8.5 percent in 2021, with savings of $454 billion."

-"Caps on Congress-approved spending on non-defense programs would be reduced from 7.8 percent in 2013 to 5.5 percent in 2021, with savings of $294 billion."

-"Medicare spending would be reduced by 2 percent a year, with savings of $123 billion."

-"The CBO estimates that the savings would reduce interest payments on the national debt by $169 billion."

Those are big numbers but are spread out over eight years, leaving room for Congress to change a lot of these cuts.  The key is that " both defense and non-defense cuts would total $54.7 billion in 2013".  In other words the actual 2013 cliff is only $55 billion.  That's a drop in the bucket of the total US economy.  Fiscal stimulus and loose monetary policy have barely managed to keep GDP increasing.   It's time to focus on eliminating budget deficits.  Particularly since much of US defense spending is for weapons programs that are chronically behind schedule, over budget, and fail to meet requirements.  Killing the F-35 JSF program would lead to a lot of savings right away and would have little impact on the quality of our air forces.

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