The Problem With Excluding Defense Spending From Cuts During Wartime Is…

You are still spending money on wars which costs money! The Republican-approved budget deal actually increases this year’s budget by $3.3 billion relative to current outlay levels from the previous year. For this year remaining: “About $8 billion in immediate cuts to domestic programs and foreign aid are offset by nearly equal increases in defense spending.” AP

By now you know most of the federal spending cuts touted by the “moderate-center-non-extreme coalition – whatever it is” of Republicans and Democrats that voted for the budget are mostly absent this fiscal year (this is a good thing in my opinion). Spending authority and actual spending in budgets are two different things. So while Congress technically did cut $38 billion right now for the future, most won’t show up through Sept. 30th this fiscal year. Only $352 million will.

Even a lot of future savings aren’t zero-sum cuts. $5.7 billion cut from giving bonuses  to states who enroll more children in health care plans will be covered under the health care reform law. (That was a nice move – kudos to whichever Hill staffer thought of that.)

But aside from the tricky authorization vs. immediate cuts and the budget increases for global military empire, there are actual cuts to programs that help the poor. Year-round Pell grants will be eliminated and kick in fully from 2012 on. Weeee! This will save $40 billion in 10 years.

So don’t worry! While the military-industrial contractors continue to reap the profits of guaranteed orders and we continue to fight decade-long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that have only made progress in the categories of “US troops aren’t getting killed at rates similar to earlier 2000s” and “now Iraqis and Afghan governments are now directly responsible for the terrible services and security Americans used to give these places” , we can safely stop poor students from receiving two Pell grants a year.

Budget problem mitigated! The War on Terrorism continues! Paying for educating the poor through both semesters of a college year – an unfortunate but necessary casualty.

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