Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) today unveiled a plan to raise the federal debt ceiling that would include $2.7 trillion in spending cuts and no new revenue. Of the $2.7 trillion in cuts, about $1 trillion would come from “winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Republicans have reacted to this by claiming that those savings aren’t real savings. As Time Magazine’s Jay Newton-Small reported:
House Republicans gripe that $1 trillion in Reid’s proposed savings aren’t actual “cuts,” but phantom money that was never going to be spent on the two wars. “It’s like me saying, I’m not going to buy 10 Cadillacs over the next 10 years: look I saved $100,000,” said one GOP aide.
However, the GOP found these savings to be completely adequate when they were included in the House Republican budget, authored by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI). As the Center on Budget and Priorities noted, about $1.3 trillion in savings in the Ryan budget “comes simply from taking credit for spending less in future years for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Ryan derided these cuts as “phantom savings,” and then proceeded to include them in his budget anyway.
“It’s an accounting gimmick in effect, I know they rationalize that well, that appeared in the Ryan budget too,” said Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ). “It was as wrong in the Ryan budget as it is in this. […] Republicans, I don’t believe in the Senate, will support a bill that purports to cut spending if that’s the kind of the spending that it purports to cut.” However, nearly every Senate Republican, including Kyl, voted for those very cuts when they voted to approve the Ryan budget. “Of course we support it,” Kyl has said of the Ryan budget. But now that those savings are included in a Democratic plan, they suddenly cease to count.