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Opening Arguments

The unkindest cut

Here's your word for the day: innumeracy. It's the mathematical equivalent of illiteracy, and it helps explain how the federal budget has grown to such monstrous proportions. An agency's funding is proposed to be increased by, say, $100 million, but then the increase is reduced to $50 million. Opponents decry a "50 percent cut in funding," and the press uncritically echoes it, never mind that what we really have is a $50 million increase in funding.

Case in point: Tracy Warner chides Indiana U.S. Rep. Mike Pence because he "supported a bill to take a step in the right direction by cutting $50 billion -- from social service programs like Medicaid." In point of fact, that "cut" was to reduce the growth from 7.3 percent to 7 percent. Try to find that in a news story -- I dare you.

As Pence asks: "Where else but in Washington, DC could a Deficit Reduction Act that actually increases entitlements by 6.3 percent instead of the planned 6.4 percent be called a cut?" Where else? In Fort Wayne, that's where.

Even if that were a real "cut" in social-services spending, it seems picky to jump on it, considering that we've just seen the start of a Medicare prescription drug plan estimated to cost more than $700 billion in the first 10 years. If you want to know how much $1 billion is, learn a little from a college student.

We are in the path of a fiscal hurricane, and when liberal editorial writers and "conservative" presidents seem equally oblivious, it's hard to see how we can get out of its path.


LP Mike Sylvester
Tue, 11/22/2005 - 7:22pm

Barry Goldwater would be a Libertarian today, that is how far the Republcians have shifted on fiscal matters.

I too am tired of people WRONGLY labelling the 50 billion dollar deficit reduction as a cut. They have not cut anything, the programs are still going to grow at between 6.3% and 7% a year.

I always thought that a cut meant that the funding next year was LESS then the funding this year...