Splitting Difference Would Reduce Federal Spending By $4 Trillion

When the Senate voted down the House Budget Resolution (the Ryan budget) by a vote of 40-57, it also voted down an Obama Administration budget (submitted in February) by a vote of 0-97. But the Obama Administration had already discarded that budget when President Obama outlined in general terms a new budget in his speech on April 13. The chart below shows the discarded budget and an estimate of the current budget based on the speech. (The chart is adapted from my April 22 Wall Street Journal oped)

The White House responded to last week’s votes by saying that “both sides will need to give some ground in order to reach a bipartisan agreement on meaningful deficit reduction.” That is, of course, true. But what should be the starting point for the negotiations? What would splitting the difference mean?

Currently there are two budgets on the table—the House budget proposal and the Administration’s April 13 outline of a proposal. The Administration’s outline proposal would reduce spending by $2 trillion over ten years, while the House would reduce spending by $6 trillion. Hence the bipartisan agreement should be to reduce spending by between $2 trillion and $6 trillion over ten years. Simply splitting the difference would be $4 trillion.

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