To The Bone: Steve Doocy Whiffs On SequestrationFebruary 26, 2013 3:25 PM EST ››› JUSTIN BERRIER
Fox News host Steve Doocy downplayed the effects of looming automatic budget cuts by comparing them to the national budget, a meaningless comparison since these cuts focus on a specific aspect of the budget known as discretionary spending, which would have a significant effect on many programs.
On Fox & Friends, Doocy downplayed the automatic budget cuts, known as sequestration, by saying the cuts are "not going to cut to the bone anyway. The president has described it as a meat cleaver because it's simply an across-the-board cut. It is like a 2.5% cut. It is not really meat cleaver, it's more of a slight little haircut that we're talking about here":
But Doocy is wrong about how the cuts will affect the federal budget. Though these cuts are 2.5% of total government spending, they would primarily affect discretionary spending, a much smaller portion of the budget. The Washington Post's Fact Checker blog noted that those who claim the sequestration would cut 2.5% of the budget do not provide the necessary context to understand what these numbers mean:
Virtually all of the $85 billion in reductions are being made in the discretionary budget -- which is only about 31 percent of federal spending. So this figure, cited by many Republicans, is based on the wrong-sized pie.
Discretionary spending must be funded year after year by Congress, whereas so-called mandatory programs (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and the like) are on automatic pilot unless Congress changes the law. The mandatory programs are largely untouched in the sequester -- though Medicare providers must take a 2 percent haircut -- even though projections show that mandatory programs are most responsible for the growth in spending.
In effect, that means one-third of the budget is carrying the burden of almost all of the cost reductions. And then on top of that, the cuts must be done in about half a year. Do the math -- the percentages add up very quickly.
The Bipartisan Policy Center issued a report that calculated the impact of sequestration on discretionary spending, finding that failure to reach a deal would amount to cuts approaching 8% for many non-defense programs and almost 13% for defense programs:
The report further found that sequestration would cause non-defense discretionary spending to fall to "modern-era lows as a share of the economy":