Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Timing of Savings

Several commentators have made the point that the President's budgetary savings are back end loaded.  I wanted to test this theory so I calculated the savings in each budget relative to the CBO baseline and the percentage of the savings that come in the first 5 years of the budget versus the second five years.  Frankly, it doesn't make much of a case for optimism about any of the forecasts.

First to set a baseline, let's determine the percentage of spending that comes in the first five years versus the last as a reasonable expectation of how the savings "should" come.  Using the CBO baseline, we get that 43.1% of the spending in the CBO baseline occurs in the first five years so a reasonable expectation is that 40 percent or so of the savings should come in the same time period.

So how do the different budgets do?  The Ryan budget comes closest to our 40 percent benchmark

In the Ryan budget, 32% of the savings come in the first five years.  In the Murray budget, the number is far lower, at 14%.  But the worse by far is in the President's budget where negative 9% of the savings come in the first five years, meaning the President's budget actually adds more to the debt over the next five years than is planned to be the case in the CBO baseline.

A budget that says more than 100% of the pain will come after you've left office isn't much of a budget at all.

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