Myths from D.C. Part 3: “The president’s plan has savings from the wars”
By Jason Hughey
President Obama has claimed that his plan to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion represents a kind of “new economic patriotism.” If the concept “new economic patriotism” doesn’t sound scary to you (it should), then hopefully at least the idea that his plan reduces the deficit by $4 trillion sounds ridiculous.
Part of the problem with this $4 trillion figure is that it claims $1.1 trillion in savings from reducing the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. And just how does the president propose to achieve these war savings?
That appears to be the trillion dollar question and it’s one that the president should have a very hard time answering. You see, these alleged “war savings” are already embedded in current policy. In other words, troop levels are already being decreased in Iraq and Afghanistan, meaning that the amount that we spend there is growing less over time. By claiming that he can find new savings of $1.1 trillion by reducing the troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan, the president is engaging in some rather duplicitous budget gimmickry.
Already, Treasury Secretary Geithner has found himself stumbling all over his words when discussing this same issue. It’s hard to claim that the same number can be counted twice, but by trying to claim that war savings already being achieved in current law are also a part of his deficit reduction plan, President Obama is trying to do exactly that. While it is good to look for savings wherever we can in our bloated budget, it’s not good to double-count savings that are already taking place in order to gain political points.
In short, it would seem that new economic patriotism involves ignoring basic mathematics.
To see previous posts in this series, click below: