David Stockman On Shutdown Deal: Flimflam & Swindle : It's All Politics Former Reagan budget director David Stockman calls the shutdown agreement that was passed in the House Thursday "flimflam & swindle." He said the accounting gimmicks used to reach the $38 billion mean nowhere near the promised savings will be achieved.
NPR logo David Stockman On Shutdown Deal: Flimflam & Swindle

David Stockman On Shutdown Deal: Flimflam & Swindle

David Stockman. LOUIS LANZANO/AP hide caption

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David Stockman.


The House Thursday afternoon approved the continuing resolution agreement that prevented the government shutdown.

And David Stockman, who served as President Reagan's budget director, doesn't think it matters. Actually, that's not the half of it. He positively hates the agreement. A lot.

He even uses the word "voodoo" to describe it. We haven't heard that word used to describe fiscal policy in a while. And if there's anyone who knows something about voodoo economics, it's Stockman.

In The Fiscal Times, Stockman gives Congress a good keyboard-lashing. An excerpt:

The $38 billion spending cut deal reached by Washington last Friday night, and approved today by the House, would indeed be the biggest in history — if they were giving out awards in the category for "flimflam & swindle." The package fairly oozes with cynicism, gimmicks and voodoo accounting. For example, the negotiators know full well they didn't "save" $4.9 billion from the victims of crime fund — because that's six times the $750 million annual cap already in place and more than the cumulative outlays from this fund for the entire past decade!

In the same vein, even the somnolent old bulls that run the appropriations committees have doubtless noticed that the periodic census was completed last year, so their $6.2 billion "cut" from this year's continuing resolution will save exactly zero dollars. Then there is $3.3 billion "saved" owing to recessions of "unobligated balances." This is budgetspeak for the equivalent of un-cashed checks — old spending authority that never got used.

The cuts and savings are so farcical, according to Stockman, that the Tea Party lawmakers should have voted against it and forced a shutdown, he says.