OK, this is the kind of thing that drives small-government libertarians bonkers, the kind of dishonesty engaged in by politicians and journalists alike that keeps the federal budget so high. "Critical vote looms for Hill Republicans," says the headline in the Washington Post, followed by the subhead "Party to set cuts to entitlement programs" (later elaboration in the story, the first cuts to entitlement spending since 1997). CUTS in SPENDING by the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT? Oh, of course not, silly. A careful reading of the whole story shows that what is proposed is a slowing of growth. Despite the "cuts," for example, Medicare spending will increase from $184 billion to $250 billion. This is the way it's always worked in Washington. An increase of, say, $2 billion in spending is proposed. The spending increase actually ends up being only $1 billion. Then come the headlines: a 50-percent cut in spending! Children will starve and old people will be thrown into the streets and the environment is at risk and the heartless ffederal government doesn't care.