Today's Inquiry into English Usage and Basic Mathematics ...

This one’s from the New York Times

And as the Pentagon confronts the prospect of cutting its budget by about 10 percent over the next decade …

… but you can probably find it in just about any newspaper article discussing the upcoming “budget cuts.”

So, just how deep are these horrendous, army-killing cuts?

Well, if “sequestration” goes as forecast, the federal government’s non-war military spending will only increase by 10% instead of by 18% between 2013 and 2021.

No, that is not a typo. The “cuts” are not cuts in actual spending, they’re cuts in the previously projected growth rate of that spending.

Most federal government spending proceeds on rails due to something called “baseline budgeting.” The “baseline” is the previous year’s spending. Under “baseline budgeting,” that previous year’s “baseline,” plus an increase based on a formula, happens automatically unless Congress decides to tinker with it.

This “sequestration” thing — triggered by Congress’s inability to agree on “deficit reduction” targets last year — imposes across-the-board reductions in that rate of automatic growth of spending, not in spending as such.

Neat trick, huh? Your congressman can brag to you that he’s cutting spending at this morning’s town hall, then — this afternoon, over cognac and cigars — brag to your local defense contractor or other corporate welfarist that he’s increasing that same spending.

Hint: He’s lying to one of you. And it’s not the guy pouring the cognac and lighting the cigars.

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