The automatic government spending cuts that drew howls of protest from Washington when they began March 1 have turned out splendidly, says Stephen Moore, a Wall Street Journal editorial board member.
“The biggest underreported story out of Washington this year is that the federal budget is shrinking and much more than anyone in either party expected,” he wrote Sunday.
Annual spending peaked at about $3.6 trillion in fiscal 2011. Many experts had expected outlays would reach $4 trillion by 2014, Moore reported.
Instead, spending dropped to $3.54 trillion in fiscal 2012, and is on track to dip below $3.45 trillion by Sept. 30, the end of fiscal 2013. That would represent the first time government spending has decreased for two straight years since the end of the Korean War, Moore noted.
“This reversal from the spending binge in 2009 and 2010 began with the debt-ceiling agreement between Mr. Obama and House Speaker John Boehner in 2011,” Moore said.
That accord included $2 trillion in spending caps for 10 years and spawned the sequester, which will save more than $50 billion this fiscal year.
“As long as Republicans don’t foolishly undo this amazing progress by agreeing to Mr. Obama’s demands for a ‘balanced approach’ to the 2014 budget in exchange for calling off the sequester, additional expenditure cuts will continue automatically,” he added.
“In other words, Mr. Obama has inadvertently chained himself to fiscal restraints that could flatten federal spending for the rest of his presidency.”
Moore said a return to normal economic growth could send the budget deficit lower at least through 2015.