The Congressional Budget Office gives its baseline budget projections for fiscal years 2013 to 2023 in its February 5, 2013 Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2013 to 2023. Table 1-5 shows how the CBO incorporates the $55 billion per year in sequestered defense cuts and the $37 million per year in sequestered non-defense cuts into its projections of discretionary spending.
The sequester “cuts” are subtracted after increasing appropriations subject to the sequester at the rate of inflation and adding back in more than a trillion dollars (over ten years) of spending exempted from the sequester.
The sequester has been advertised as “cutting” discretionary spending
over a ten year period by $995 billion. After inflation adjustments and
exempting more than a trillion dollars of defense and non defense
discretionary spending from the sequester, the CBO projects (in its
Table 1.1) discretionary spending to increase by $110 billion
over the decade. There is no actual $995 billion cut after the CBO
applies its magic adjustments. Rather there is a $110 billion increase.
Sequester alarmists will respond that it is impossible to run the
federal government without annual inflation adjustments and without
exempting certain government spending. We American voters might respond
that most of us do not receive automatic inflation adjustments to our
earnings and we are expected to tighten our belts when times are tough
and our personal debt has gotten out of control.
Whatever the case, it is hard to characterize a $110 billion increase
as a draconian cut that will bring America and its federal government
to its knees.