Attack of the Mutant Ninja Fiscal Conservatives

Oh Noes!

Via TPM:  the GOP-led budget insurrection over the six-month spending bill in March actually boosted spending over that period by $3 billion, according to the latest CBO analysis:

“Total discretionary outlays in 2011 will be $3.2 billion higher as a result of the legislation, CBO estimates–an increase of $7.5 billion for defense programs, partially offset by a net reduction of $4.4 billion in other spending,” reads a just-released report from the Congressional Budget Office — Congress’ non-partisan scorekeeper. Analysts there conclude that increase is due in large part to the fact that the six month spending bill shifted defense spending to more immediate activities, which means the bills will come due sooner than later.

It is true that the bill will, if unchanged in any future budget, lead to about $122 billion in spending reductions…(wait for it)….over the next ten years.


That’s barely more than what the Republicans road into office swearing they’d cut this year alone…not to mention that $122 billion out of a truly unrealistically conservative estimate* of ten year expenditure of $25.4 trillion dollars amounts to a rounding error — a reduction of on the order .5% over a decade.

Way to go!

The initial reports of $38 billion in cuts, by the way, were Teabagger bait, which means that the Republican party has some ‘splainin to do to its base, and the rest of us should help tell that story as much as we can.

Here’s how the scam worked:

the approximately $38 billion in advertised cuts spanned the entire federal budget, including locked-in “mandatory” spending programs, and it reflected reductions in “budget authority” — how much the government is allowed to spend — as opposed to projected “outlays” — how much the government truly will spend.

Ah, that old problem for the GOP and its voters — the difference between what the tooth fairy promises, and what actually happens in the real world:

When viewed more narrowly — how many fewer dollars will the government spend this year as a result of this bill — the results flip.

Which is to say, the GOP rookie congresscritturs and the Tea Party electorate were promised one thing, and got…played.

The moral, dear faux Minutemen:  the GOP’s central command has exactly no interest in actual lower-case “c” conservatism.  They serve different masters…or to put it another way:


If you can’t tell who the patsy is at the table, it’s you.

*That number comes from the simple-minded multiplying the (pre-stimulus) 2008 numbers — an arithmetical gesture of maximal kindness to our GOP arithmetic-challenge friends.

Image:  Follower of Hieronymous Bosch,  The Battle Between Carnival and Lent, (A subject sometimes titled The Dance of Fools, Carnival.), c 1600-1620.

53 replies
  1. 1
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    I can’t believe the Tea Partiers got played after they asked so nice – after all, they came unarmed. This time.

  2. 2
    FoxinSocks says:

    Hieronymous Bosch! Love that guy.

    Oh, did you want me to comment on politics? I’m wondering if the reason Obama hasn’t “drawn a line in the sand” regarding the debt ceiling is that he’s going to pull this trick again with the GOP. They’ll crow that they got all these spending cuts, when in fact, they’ll end up with next to nothing.

  3. 3
    danimal says:

    I’d laugh at the tea partiers for getting played, but I’m fairly certain they’re in on the joke. They like to play dress-up and warn America about Islamokenyan fascism, but when push comes to shove, they want their mobility scooters, monthly Social Security checks and an army kicking ass in the Middle East.

    IOW, they’re full of shit, and always have been.

  4. 4
    MikeBoyScout says:

    Wait! What?

    Teabaggers is stupid? Republicans are grifters?

    When did this start?

  5. 5
    tkogrumpy says:

    Shouldn’t we just tell them they won and they can go home now?

  6. 6
    jl says:

    Thanks. Glad some big shot blogger posse has posted this where people will see it.

    My first reaction to the story was that it was a silly niggling gotcha on the GOP ‘responsible daddies’ who pushed this through.

    But then I remembered several things that make it not silly:

    First, that the GOP, across the board, emphasized that real cuts had to start NOW NOW NOW! in order to ” just do it”. Turns out they were blowing smoke.

    Second, looks like the TeaPeople ground troops had to be informed of this by commie gummint bureaucrats. The Tea’ers were upset that the NOW NOW NOW cuts were not bigger, but I never heard an outcry that there were no effective cuts this year at all. In a similar situation on the other side, I think a nerd number cruncher on some miserable lefty blog would have raised a sqwak. No very serious person in the national media would have taken it seriously but there would have been a sqwak. So, either no one on the Tea’er squad follows or is able to follow what is actually, you know, done policywaise, or they are a front groups for the GOP that only do and say what they are told to.

    Third, there is tie in to the Krugman theory that the deficit hawks among the think tankers and elected officials are frauds. Polices that lower the deficit only after raising it, and then only lowering through unrealistic (sometimes so unrealistic that they have to fudged or hidden or simply omitted in the hope that no one notices) is a common theme. It was there in any version of the Bush Social Security privatization scam that was not obvious theft, it is there in the Ryan’s GOP roadmap, and within Ryna’s roadmap it is, like nested Russian dolls, in the Ryan plan to voucherize and gradually phase out Welfare, er, Medicare.

  7. 7
    PeakVT says:

    @danimal: I am quite sure the rank and file teabaggers (not the online variety, but the kind that tunes into Faux and Big Pharma and nothing else) are not in on the joke.

  8. 8
    scav says:

    Hey, that whole thing about an inverse relationship between addition and subtraction is just intellectual eelleeettism gone mad. Cuts were made, that’s all anyone needs to know, right? Paper cuts, you know, THOSE are the ones that really really hurt, right? Ummm, . . . something along those lines.

  9. 9
    Tom Levenson says:

    @jl: For the record, “big shot blogger” is George Carlin fodder.

    Ah well, I’ve always wanted to be a jumbo shrimp.

  10. 10
    JC says:

    Frauds is right. But we know this. The whole ‘deficit reduction’ milieu, is fantasy. Has been since the deal between the Rethugs and Obama around X-Mas.

    That we all KNOW THIS, and yet the entire village/media complex acts as if any of this is not outright fantasy, is in my opinion, the Iraq War of 2011, in terms of Rethug lying, Big Media compliance, and democratic giving in to the fantasy.

  11. 11
    MikeBoyScout says:

    On a positive note, the economy needs more, not less, deficit spending at the moment.
    Or, even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while.

  12. 12

    That’s barely more than what the Republicans road into office swearing they’d cut this year alone

    “rode into office”

  13. 13
    Mike Kay (Chief of Staff) says:

    @Tom Levenson:
    everyone loves to point out how silly the teabaggers are, but what about the left side of the blogosphere who ALSO took this “bait” and went ballistic and set their hair on fire when the “scam” was announced. Aren’t they just as [insert adjective here] as the teabaggers for not appreciating the nuance and engagin in knee jerk reactions?

  14. 14
    jl says:

    A little off topic, but I hope poster TL takes a look at Newt.

    I think he will actually be interesting. He opposed Ryan’s Medicare phase out scam, then backtracked, finagling a retraction while leaving some weasel room for shared responsibility. I was smug: Newt’s a hypocrite and panderer; we knew that already and now he kindly conducts a public demonstration project that takes two calendar days.

    But now Newt says there should be more gummint Alzheimer’s research:

    WASHINGTON – Republican presidential contender Newt Gingrich on Monday said Alzheimer’s disease is on pace to cost the government some $20 trillion over the next four decades and said boosting federal research money would be a wise investment.

    I wonder what reaction that will get and whether that will fly. If it does not, will Newt just drop it and hope it goes away, or will he dish out another absurd backtrack and weasel.

    Newt just cannot help himself with his crazy innovative (and usually goofy or bad0 ideas. Whether he is sincere about them, or it is flim flam, it makes no difference. There seems to be no market for new ideas that involve anything other than tax cuts and smaller government (except any government that helps me!).

    I wonder whether innovative ideas of any kind are a feature or more probably, a big bad commie bug among the Tea Peoples. And I wonder whether Newt knows his audience anymore. Is there a market for his stuff now?

  15. 15
    mclaren says:

    …an increase of $7.5 billion for defense programs…

    Of course.

    As I’ve been saying for years now, American military spending is on an infinite upward curve. It will go up and up and up and up and up and up, never reducing, always increasing. At the present rate of increase, U.S. military spending is on track to double within the next 9 years. But that’s only if America’s military spending remains at the present level of increase.

    You can bet that our military spending will increase at a continually increasing rate.

    Don’t tell me “we can’t afford it.” Holland couldn’t afford tupliomania, but it rose and rose and rose until the entire economy crashed. The British Empire couldn’t afford the South Sea Bubble…but they kept spending and spending anyway. The Anasazi people couldn’t afford to keep building those colossal cliff-hollowed skyscraper cities after their water ran out, but they kept building them and building them and building them.

  16. 16
    aisce says:

    2011 has turned out to be quite the year for our president. it’s why i’m so confident this debt limit will get raised with minimal costs to the economy. obama is really, really good at his job. and republicans really, really aren’t.

    the best thing that happened to this country was dumping the blue dogs.

  17. 17
    jl says:

    @Mike Kay (Chief of Staff): Please explain. How did the leftosphere go ‘ballistic’? The previous info what the cuts were not as large as advertised, not that actual spending would increase. And surely the lefies were not outraged in the same way that the Teagaggers were.

    I remember lefties making fun of teabaggers for getting scammmed and being clueless. But no outrage, since it seems to me that scam of the fake budget cuts was for the good, from a leftie point of view.

    Can you link to an example?

  18. 18
    cat48 says:

    @Mike Kay (Chief of Staff):

    Maddow went ballistic on air & said we would lose over 100,000 jobs because of the cuts! It was awful to watch b/c I knew it wasn’t true b/c the info came out within 2 days (Smoke & Mirrors Used In Budget Cuts) & she had the fit anyway. She never has corrected that on air. I watched for 2 wks straight & ‘crickets’

  19. 19
    Mike Kay (Chief of Staff) says:


    But now Newt says there should be more gummint Alzheimer’s research:

    Boy, Newt is going after the senior vote hard.

    First the racist statements, then shitting on Ryancare, and now dementia research. I guess next he’ll be on late night commercials hawking those free motorized chair.

  20. 20
    aisce says:


    you can’t possibly be serious. the professional left was screaming betrayal before they even knew what the deal was. right up to the deadline, they were sure that even if obama wasn’t gutting social security this time, he was surely getting “rolled” by those super tough nasty republicans. we were gonna lose food stamps and the epa and planned parenthood and financial reform and on and on and on, and it was a betrayal of liberalism itself i tells ya!

    turns out, our president was forthright, honest, and competent as always, and the professional left were a bunch of sabotaging, deluded, whiny fools. as always.

  21. 21
    jl says:

    @Mike Kay (Chief of Staff):

    But Newt said government funded research. That is by definition inefficient, commie, totalitarian, and the gummint will mess it all up.

    Newt should propose a privatized research program financed by tax cuts and a voluntary Alzheimer’s insurance voucher system. It it does not help his campaign, he could wrangle it into his next educational futuristic money making enterprise.

  22. 22

    Good negotiators rarely call their opponents names or force them to publicly play chicken. Let the other guy save face even as you rob him blind, and he’ll walk right up and let you rob him blind again next time.

    PLEASE, Obama, come through on this one again. We’ve got at least two more budget negotiations after the debt ceiling before these chuckleheads are voted out, but their position will be weaker each time. Play them for saps and get us through this intact, because they really are crazy and will happily sink the country to get what they want – sinking the country.

  23. 23
    jl says:

    @aisce: I agree with your history, but disagree with the parallel.

    A part of the left did not trust Obama and predicted betrayal or incompetence before the deal was finished. (Edit, as I remember there was a sigh of relief in some lefty quarters, and denial in others, after the facts were out. But there was not silence.)

    Here, several weeks after the deal was struck, it turns out to be a complete failure in terms of the stated bottom line (if not in terms of some of the politicians’ ulterior motives). What do we hear from the Teabaggers in response to the CBO analysis? Nothing so far. Will we hear anything?

    If nothing, that is more evidence that they do not comprehend what is going on, or they just make a fuss on instructions from the astroturf organizers.

    Or they are already so disillusioned they have all locked themselves in their rooms and are pouting.

  24. 24
    Mike says:

    @aisce: I admit I was one of those screaming bloody murder at the deal… well, not that extreme, but I was really disappointed and depressed by it… until it was revealed that Obama ended up playing the GOP completely and he didn’t sacrifice the economy for “bipartisanship”. It all made sense after that–why the president was willing to give away tons in funding for precious priorities. He wasn’t really giving up anything at all. Whether the GOP were fooled on that or were complicit in the deception, I don’t know, but Obama won that quiet battle.

    I had a mea culpa moment for sure, and I definitely trust our president to a lot more now that he will be on our side in future battles, even if it might not look that way from the outside.

  25. 25
    Mike Kay (Chief of Staff) says:


    you’re kidding. When the deal was announced the meltdown at GOS made Fukushima look like a tea party.

    And jl, I still remember the time in December when the blogosphere was rumor mongering that Obama would slash social security during the state of the union address, and you specifically believed it.

  26. 26

    I recall that for about a week after it passed the Tea Party Reps were getting Hell from their constituents for not getting any good cuts or social engineering schemes passed.

    And then they forgot. Attention span is not their strength.

  27. 27
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    @jl: I like it! Hand a voucher to Alzheimers patients and remind them not to lose it, because they’ll need it to get their treatments. That sounds like a plan they would come up with.

  28. 28
    jl says:

    @Mike Kay (Chief of Staff):

    I have to go, so cannot follow up tonight, but see my response to aisce.

    I don’t see a very good parallel between the firegagger left and extreme reactionary Teabagger behavior.

    I was talking about whether we will hear any reaction from the teabaggers at all about this news, and what that reaction will tell us about them, and what they are likely to say and do in the future.

  29. 29
    Mark S. says:

    @Mike Kay (Chief of Staff):

    Boy, Newt is going after the senior vote hard.

    Why not? Most Republican voters are seniors. I think he was stupid to try to walk back his comments today. He would kick the shit out of the rest of those losers if he was the only to defend Medicare. Who cares what Morning Joe and Bill Bennett think?

  30. 30
    patroclus says:

    I think it is good news that the much-ballyhooed impact of the Republicans has been less than that which has been described by the media. The country, in my view, is slowly emerging from the severe financial recession but we need to continue to stimulate more effective demand, so actual spending cuts that actually hit right now would not be good policy.

    Hopefully, they will be similarly ineffective in the future and it is also good that they seem much more interested in the ballyhoo than in the actual policy. Obama has played them once – he’ll have to do it at least 2-3 more times before the next election.

  31. 31
    Martin says:

    Obama sold us out again! He keeps giving in to right-wing memes!

  32. 32


    there is tie in to the Krugman theory that the deficit hawks among the think tankers and elected officials are frauds.

    It isn’t a theory; it’s a fact readily established by reviewing the conduct of the supposed deficit hawks during the Bush/Cheney Junta. They had the White House, the senate, and the house. They ran up their tab like a drunk in Las Vegas.

  33. 33
    Suffern ACE says:

    @James E. Powell: Yep. Please find me a hawk that has ever voted against a military program…look at the TEA demands now to get the debt ceiling passed…cuts to everything, but 17 billion more for defense. Sure, one COULD argue that the only purpose of the federal government is to provide for the common defense, but how much more defense do we possibly need?

  34. 34
    Mike Kay (Chief of Staff) says:

    @jl: I wasn’t even talking about firebaggers, as I never read FDL, but simply GOS.

    the fact remains, as I said in my original post, the left side of the blogosphere freaked out the night the deal was announced (April 8th) and during the following week without any actually evidence. And thus they’re just as emotional and knee jerk as the teabaggers. And as I said in December, for all their talk about reality, they’ll buy into the conspiracy theories peddled by carnival barkers like glenn and jane.

  35. 35
    Martin says:

    @Mike Kay (Chief of Staff): The GOS wreck list was nothing but hyperventilating about how badly Obama was going to sell us out, with numerous examples (and one-upping) of how Obama sold us out in the past. Apparently, Obama had swallowed the Bowles-Simpson proposals full and was going to implement all of them.

    Which, a month on now, clearly he did and the US is on the road to certain ruin.

  36. 36
    Caz says:

    They totally scammed the American people! Or at least they tried to, but people found out the truth pretty quickly. I’m a libertarian and consider myself a conservative, and I totally agree with you on this one. The leaders of the republican party tried to pull a fast one here and got busted. They are a disgrace to conservative values and fiscal responsibility.

    But it’s kind of hypocritical to criticize the republicans for a phony spending cut, but no mention of the total lack of spending cuts, phony or otherwise, from the liberals.

    Just be consistent.

  37. 37
    gwangung says:

    Good negotiators rarely call their opponents names or force them to publicly play chicken. Let the other guy save face even as you rob him blind, and he’ll walk right up and let you rob him blind again next time.

    This is, um, kinda basic negotiation strategy.

    Apparently, there are a lot of people who don’t understand that.

    And, yes….both sides do it.

  38. 38
    Martin says:


    But it’s kind of hypocritical to criticize the republicans for a phony spending cut, but no mention of the total lack of spending cuts, phony or otherwise, from the liberals.
    Just be consistent.

    So the $500B in reductions in Medicare spending doesn’t count? If the GOP would stop trying to repeal that and instead jump in and help out, maybe we could increase that number. ACA is entitlement reform – but the GOP doesn’t want to give credit to the Dems for doing what the GOP has always promised, so they oppose it instead.

  39. 39
    Mike Kay (Chief of Staff) says:

    @Caz:but the difference is republicans ran on spending cuts, the democrats didn’t.

  40. 40
    MikeJ says:

    @Mike Kay (Chief of Staff): Also too, the people who were screaming were always complaining that Obama didn’t negotiate the way they wanted, that is, start high and come down. Part of Obama’s smoke and mirrors was including as “cuts” extra spending that he had proposed. This made the manics madder because they said he gave away more.

    The more he did what they wanted, the angrier they got.

  41. 41
    asiangrrlMN says:

    THE TRUTH? You can’t handle THE TRUTH! No, it has nothing to do with anything, but neither does anything the GOP does. And, I, too, love Bosch. You could post paintings by him with every post and I would be a happy camper. One eeentsy request–moar triptychs.

    @Mike Kay (Chief of Staff): Damn you and your FACTS.

  42. 42
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @gwangung: No, the only negotiation strategy that ever works is demanding much much much more than you expect to get, because that way you meet in the middle but — shh, here’s the clever part! — the middle ends up being higher than the other side really wants. It’s totally foolproof. When Obama doesn’t do precisely that, it’s because he’s doing a bad job on purpose because he’s basically a Republican. This is all well-established mythology incontrovertible fact.

  43. 43
    hhex65 says:

    @Mike Kay (Chief of Staff): It’s not the same as the teabaggers, it’s simply that the left side of the blogosphere had a fever and the only prescription was more cowbell. I doubt they even remember it now.

  44. 44
    Martin says:

    @MikeJ: Honestly, most on the left (or on the right) aren’t actually interested in achieving the goals they espouse – they merely want to win the battle of what is the ‘right’ course of action. Remember that the loudest voices on the left were in the ‘kill the bill’ camp. There was no way in hell they’d get single payer, but they would rather there be no HCR than a HCR solution that didn’t hew to their ideas of what ought to be.

    I mean, they’ll yell and scream and demand higher top marginal tax rates, when the evidence is that almost nobody pays that rate. But close up the loopholes and deductions for that same crowd, and they have nothing to say. They don’t actually want higher revenues, they just want the post-WWII rates back, regardless of whether anyone would actually pay them or not.

  45. 45
    Mike Kay (Chief of Staff) says:

    @Caz: the problem is the GOP plan was ridiculous to begin with.

    People don’t want Medicare cut. People don’t want their Prescription Drug Benefit cut. People don’t want Social Security cut. People don’t want to cut the Pentagon.

    Discretionary spending amounts to merely $420 billion. If you eliminated every single agency (FBI, CIA, Border Patrol, TSA, Federal Prisons, FAA, FDA, SEC, Meat inspection, Agricultural subsidies, FEMA, the Drug wars, Nuclear Regulatory, the VA, Cargo inspections, US Marshalls, Satellite Reconnaissance, etc., etc.) the deficit would STILL be high. But of course, people don’t want these agencies cut either. Sure you could privatizes the Lincoln memorial and the Statue of Liberty, and Yellowstone, but that’s only a few bucks.

    It was phoney to promise to balance the budget during a great recession and during a war.

    And after all, the gop doesn’t really care about the deficit as they never said anything when bush blew the surplus he inherited with unfunded spending sprees and tax cuts. I mean Ryan and the entire GOP caucus voted for the unfunded prescription drug plan which cost 1.2 trillion dollars and every unfunded nation building request bush submitted for Iraq.

  46. 46
    Martin says:

    @Mike Kay (Chief of Staff): Liar. Just cutting foreign aid and PBS funding would save $3.7 trillion dollars.

    (over 130 years)

  47. 47

    Not that you ever care, but… yeah, there’s no inconsistency here because reducing spending in this budget was not a Democratic goal. The attitude of liberals in general is that spending is about as low as it can go, and long-term issues are a result entirely of reduced income from thirty years of cutting taxes on corporations and the rich, and spiraling health care costs (rather than Medicare spending). The ACA makes the first stab at controlling the latter, and the former has been the one issue the GOP will do anything to block corrections to, ever. The President laid it out pretty well in his deficit speech.

    Balancing the budget is a major Republican plank. They haven’t even tried. Even the benefits (smaller than our budget balancing efforts) of Ryan’s plan are based on predictions of job recovery that are nothing short of bizarre. They have tried to make cuts on crucial services and then blow away those self-immolating gains with *more* tax reductions. Our goal in these negotiations was to block what the polite among us see as short-sighted cuts that will do much more harm than good. So Obama’s handled things for us pretty well there!

  48. 48
    debbie says:

    Wow. Combine this with the $17 billion Republicans added to the Pentagon budget, and we really see how they are the party of fiscal discipline. Just like they’re the party of waging war.

  49. 49

    Wait, I’m confused… your blog is all about spending as much money as possible, and now you are upset that the GOP actually did it? Be consistent- you should be cheering that instead of bankrupting our nation at a rapid pace like Democrats want, the GOP was fooled into collapsing America even quicker.

  50. 50
    ChrisS says:

    Yeah, reckless spending and tax cuts, the republican way. As opposed to investing in America and paying for it, responsibly. You’d think that serious people would figure out that they can’t pay for two three foreign wars and massive tax cuts to the wealthy at the same time. There’s a struggling economy poised for a double-dip recession and the best plan of action the teabaggers can come up with is blowing the fucking thing up and removing more money from the system. The stupid, it burns.

    But, I’ll at least have my box and sparrow.

  51. 51
    OzoneR says:


    But it’s kind of hypocritical to criticize the republicans for a phony spending cut, but no mention of the total lack of spending cuts, phony or otherwise, from the liberals.

    liberals don’t want to cut spending, they got what they want.

  52. 52
    Alan in SF says:

    So the 6-month spending bill cut domestic spending by $4.4 billion and increased war spending by $7.5 billion. Helluva victory, Democrats!

  53. 53
    Mike Kay (Team America) says:

    @A Conservative Teacher: look asshole, the gop is a fraud. Just look at Newt and Senate republicans run from Ryan’s attempt to gut medicare. Just today the fiscal conservatives voted against repealing subsidies to Exxon (including Rand Paul). They’ve never paid for a single thing. Not Bush’s $1.2 trillion dollar prescription drug plan, which ryan voted for, not any of their tax cuts, not any of their wars, not any of their fat subsidies to red state farms.

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