With all the talk of sequstration and its supposed "austerity on autopilot" (as characterized at Voice of America -- your tax dollars at work against you), it's useful to look at what has really been happening with federal spending over the past six years, something the establishment press is very reluctant to do.
On Thursday, the Congressional Budget Office released its February Monthly Budget Review ahead of the Treasury Department's official report which will arrive early next week. It estimates that the federal government ran a one-month deficit of $205 billion. It also shows that year-to-date spending through five months of the government's fiscal year is up by 2.7 percent, and is up even after adjustment for timing quirks:
The federal government has histoically run deficits in February, but it's useful to see how dramatically reported (and for 2013, estimated) February spending and deficits have risen in just the past six years, because it's clear that the increase is almost entirely due to higher spending (all numbers are billions):
February 2007 -- Spending, $240; Deficit, $120
February 2008 -- Spending, $281; Deficit, $176
February 2009 -- Spending, $281; Deficit, $193
February 2010 -- Spending, $328; Deficit, $221
February 2011 -- Spending, $333; Deficit, $223
February 2012 -- Spending, $335; Deficit, $232
February 2013 (estimated) -- Spending, $332; Deficit, $205
These days, the apparent definition of "austerity" is "trying to level off spending now that it's almost 40% higher than it was just six years ago." The press never, ever reports on how long-term spending has exploded, but instead assumes, as does the administration, that the current level of spending is the new normal, and that any attempt to reduce its growth trajectory will cause unspeakable hardship.
Any attempt at a real reduction in spending automatically considered "draconican," even by Republicans like Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama. Both attempts at new definitions fit the real definition of another word: "ridiculous."
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.