WASHINGTON – The fiscal 2011 funding bill roundly hailed for its "historic" spending cuts actually raised government spending by more than $3 billion, according to a new report.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office concluded Monday evening, "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."
In other words, the bill's increase in defense spending this year outweighed the cuts to discretionary programs -- something the CBO warned may potentially be the case. Now it's the official projection.
The finding is particularly embarrassing because President Barack Obama and leaders of both parties portrayed the measure as a monumental accomplishment in the realm of spending cuts, which they all agreed were vital to America's future.
"We have agreed to an historic amount of cuts for the remainder of this fiscal year," said House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) five weeks ago, promising that the measure would cut $39 billion from 2011 spending.
There was some good news in the CBO report for champions of spending cuts: the legislation is projected to lower the deficit by $122 billion between 2012 and 2021, with a reduction of $183 billion in spending authority during that period.
"[O]ne thing is clear: congressional Republicans were able to save American taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars in the long term," said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Boehner.