Historic Spending Cut Bill Actually Increased Budget Deficit By $3 Billion

It turns out that the budget deal that ended the government shutdown fight last month didn’t amount to much at all:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The big spending bill passed into law with much fanfare last month will cut the deficit by $122 billion over the next decade — less than half of what top lawmakers promised at the time — the government reported Monday.

Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, had touted the legislation as reducing the deficit by more than $300 billion over a ten-year span. His prediction was based on an analysis by a Senate aide that the $38 billion in cuts this year would translate into $315 billion over a decade.

But the Congressional Budget Office, the closest thing to an official referee, said Monday the cuts add up to much less.

Released the same day the Treasury Department announced that the government has reached the $14.3 trillion legal limit on its ability to borrow money, the CBO study illustrates the difficulty in cutting the deficit, especially for the immediate future.

Treasury has the ability to juggle the books to avoid a default for now, but legislation to lift the so-called debt limit is going to have to include significantly greater cuts than the spending bill last month.

The budget office also said the compromise negotiated between Boehner and President Barack Obama actually increases the deficit this year by $3.2 billion, because of military spending.

Part of the problem, of course, is that politicians were trying to cut spending while only working with about half of the year’s budget since many programs had already been authorized and funded via the Continuing Resolutions that were passed in late September and December. Nonetheless, this has got to be a bit of an embarrassment for the House GOP.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Deficit and Debt, US Politics, , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. hey norm says:

    This is completely in line with history. While the so-called Republicans claim the fiscal responsibility mantle any analysis of the record shows that they are in fact the opposite. Debt balloned under Reagan. Bush ’43 got together with Democrats and passed a reasonable package of tax increases and spending cuts. As thanks for his financial responsibility he was summarily tossed out of office. Then Clinton did the same in ’93 – before Newt and his Contract on America – and spending and the debt both decreased. Then of course Bush ’43 totally reversed course slash taxes for the rich and increased spending (and the size of government) and in the process crashed the economy. Since taking control of the House in Novemeber the pseudo-republicans have done nothing – nothing – but propose, and vote, to increse debt, and wage a culture war. This latest report from the CBO is merely more evidence in a long chain of evidence that they excel at talking the talk but are completely unable to walk the walk.

  2. TG Chicago says:

    @hey norm:

    Your first mention of Bush 43 was supposed to be Bush 41, wasn’t it?

  3. Hey Norm says:


  4. john personna says:

    The amazing thing is that this is the kind of deal some want to up the debt limit.