Federal Spending Freeze
This Morning Matthew Yglesias put forth the following scenarios to describe what happens when Obama’s proposed spending freeze gets to Congress:
Scenario one is that self-proclaimed deficit hawks like Kent Conrad turn out to like farm subsidies, decline to implement those cuts, and pass a budget that doesn’t actually freeze spending. Then Obama gets to chide them, and say it’s not his fault congress is so spendy.
Scenario two is that self-proclaimed deficit hawks turn out to like farm subsidies, and Obama launches a big political crusade on behalf of his cuts, threatening to veto anything that doesn’t come close to the spirit of what he’s proposing. That would be . . . interesting.
Scenario three, the really troubling one, is that self-proclaimed deficit hawks turn out to like farm subsidies, and Obama draws a line in the sand over the concept of a freeze, while being flexible about the details. Under that scenario, the weak claims don’t get cut and instead the politically powerless need to bear the brunt of the burden of a tactical political gambit.
Last, though probably least likely (call it Scenario Q) the administration has actually tried to draw up what it thinks is a politically realistic list of spending cuts that doesn’t touch the most famously untouchable areas of the budget. I don’t even have any idea what that would look like.
I doubt any of these scenarios exclusively sum up what the Administration is trying to do or what will actually happen. Whatever these proposed cuts are, the Administration almost certainly will include both realistic and unrealistic cuts.
As for the third scenario about politically powerless budget claims bearing the burden of political gambits, it’s already happening. Just nobody, left or right, thinks that good budgets claims match up with political power. So if you change the math regarding available funds then good programs hit.