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How to Judge a Deal

Recorded on July 27, 2011

From The Heritage Foundation, I'm Ernest Istook.

When politicians claim they're making big cuts in spending, a lot of the numbers are phony.

The only real numbers are immediate spending cuts and permanent structural changes..

Politicians often throw out big numbers of supposed spending cuts. But only the immediate cuts are significant. Promises to reduce spending over a multi-year period are fluff because future Congresses never seem to go along with the plan—and they always project larger cuts in future years than they're willing to make right now.

The second guideline is whether permanent structural changes are being made? Things like actual reforms that lower the cost of entitlement programs. Or passage of a balanced budget amendment.

Those are legitimate controls on spending.

But claims to reduce spending over a multi-year period are unreliable. Those usually turn out to be hot air. It's shameful, but it's true.

From The Heritage Foundation, I'm Ernest Istook