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After months of rigorous debate over trimming the federal budget, Congress has finally passed a short-term budget and increased the debt limit in return for what is said to be "historic" budget cuts.
But after all that--the fighting, the 11th-hour back-room deals, the warnings of calamity--will the federal budget actually be smaller in a few years?
Nope. Spending will continue to increase.
Much of the problem has to do with the language of Washington, which, you might have noticed, is different from the speech you hear almost every other place on Earth. When most politicians talk of "cutting" spending, they don't always literally mean that they intend to reduce current spending levels. Instead, under this version of fiscal discipline, Congress merely agrees not to spend as much money as it initially had planned. Once that deal is struck lawmakers then turn around to sell their proposals as "cuts."
"The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance." — Marcus Tullius Cicero