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As the sequester is poised to take effect at midnight, the word of the day is "austerity", as in "America is embarking on a path of austerity with the sequester spending cuts". That's what I keep hearing from our nation's vaunted deep-thinking experts, most of whom coincidentally look very attractive on television.
I've been looking all over for this alleged austerity, and with all due respect to our politicians and pundits...like hell. We're nowhere near to austerity. I'm forced to repeat some numbers to refresh the memories of certain people regarding spending.
In FY2008, the year before Obama became President, federal spending was $2.98 trillion.
If FY2013, federal spending is estimated at approximatly $3.8 trillion.
This means the federal government is spending over $800 billion per year more than it was five short years ago. That's $800,000,000,000.00 more PER YEAR. Is this austerity ? Not by any sane definition of the word, it isn't.
The sequester would require $85 billion in federal spending cuts, with about $44 billion of that amount coming this year. If the sequester cuts happen, that means FY2013 federal spending will be roughly $756 billion higher than it was five short years ago.
We're being told that these massive federal government spending increases somehow represent "austerity". Sorry, Big Brother, but I ain't buying what you're selling. I was born, but it wasn't yesterday. When I think of your austerity, the word "Orwellian" keeps popping into my mind.
And consider that we're spending $800 billion more than we were five years ago IN SPITE OF THE FACT THAT THE IRAQ WAR ENDED !!! My libeiral friends told me for years that the Iraq War was our big spending problem. Well, liberals, it's been over for more than a year. Where are the concomitant spending decreases ? They didn't happen. Federal spending went UP after the Iraq War ended in December, 2011. Surprise, surprise.
We also have the Federal Reserve running around engaging in quantitative easing measures to the tune of trillions of dollars. This involves the Fed buying Treasury notes and mortgage-backed securities, and it is equivalent to the Fed printing money. Nothing austere there either.
These are things I'd like you to consider when you hear all the false prophets shouting "austerity" at you today and tomorrow should the sequester go into effect. These are the same people who use the term "spending cuts" to refer to spending increases, but at a slower rate. Btw, the sequester is one such "spending cut". Orwell would be proud.
Now I'll go weep privately and bemoan the fact that our poor federal government might have to scrape by, spending ONLY $3.75 TRILLION this year. Oh, the horror. Oh, the...austerity.
Update 3/2/13 - Below is a CBO chart that illustrates exactly how much "austerity" the sequester will bring about...hardly any. Federal spending is scheduled to go nowhere but up.