Talk of a government shutdown is heating up. The current continuing resolution funding the government is set to expire on March 4th. Last week, House Republicans passed a bill that would fund the remainder of fiscal 2011 at $61 billion below fiscal 2010 levels. Senate Democrats are balking at the $61 billion in cuts and the president has issued a veto threat.
The following chart measures $61 billion in cuts against the president’s fiscal 2011 estimates for total federal spending, the deficit, and interest on the debt:
As the chart shows, the proposed cuts amount to less than a third of what taxpayers will pay in interest on the debt alone this year.
The $61 billion in cuts, which are woefully insufficient, would come from a relatively small category of government spending (non‐defense, discretionary spending). However, that merely indicates the need to tackle defense spending and budget‐busting “mandatory” programs. Unfortunately, the president’s latest budget proposal punted on these critical areas, and the Republicans have yet to put forth a plan let alone a coherent message.