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Posted at 3:06 PM ET, 02/10/2011

Annualization matters

By Ezra Klein

I got at this a bit in today's Wonkbook, but it's important to remember that the debate in the House right now is not over how much to cut from the 2012 budget, but how much to cut from the resolution funding the government's operations between March of 2011 and September of 2011. That's seven months, not a full year. So when you hear people throwing around numbers, it's useful to annualize them -- to think of them in terms of what they'd mean for a normal, full-year budget.

So a $35 billion cut -- which is what House leadership favors -- is, in terms of service reductions, similar to a $60 billion cut, and a $100 billion cut -- which is what the Republican Study Committee wants -- is more like a $170 billion cut. And remember, all this money is coming from non-security discretionary spending -- a small fraction of the government that includes things like education and infrastructure, but excludes things like Medicare and Social Security and the military.

These cuts, in other words, are deep. And the conflict between the House leadership and the RSC could play out any number of ways. If the Democrats are lucky (or good), they'll be able to tar all Republicans with the extreme cuts being proposed by the RSC, and thus the whole party will look like axe-happy Gingrichites. But if they're not lucky (or good), the RSC's demands will serve to make the House leadership's proposal look like a reasonable middle ground, even though it's a deep and unwise cut into a lot of programs that we need right now.

By Ezra Klein  | February 10, 2011; 3:06 PM ET
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It would be wiser to focus on the medium to long-term deficit/debt, but how do we do that, other than allowing the upper bracket Bush tax cuts to expire in 2012? The ACA will hopefully lead to progress on health care costs, but that is in the future. Social Security cuts are apparently off the table. The president's promise not to raise taxes on middle income Americans takes a lot of other things off the table. What do we do next?

Posted by: jduptonma | February 10, 2011 4:05 PM | Report abuse


you do realize that 85% of the cost of the bush tax cuts are from those of us in the under $200k for individuals and $250k for families right? That doesn't leave anything remotely near what we need to have any serious deficit reduction if we dont' ALL forgo the tax cuts come 2012. It'll take that, serious entitlement reform and serious pentagon reforms to make a serious dent in the deficit by say 2020.

And Ezra, way to keep up the partisanship!!!

If the Democrats are lucky (or good), they'll be able to tar all Republicans with the extreme cuts being proposed by the RSC, and thus the whole party will look like axe-happy Gingrichites

Really Gingrichites?

Posted by: visionbrkr | February 10, 2011 4:28 PM | Report abuse

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