Real Spending Cuts

Meet Dave. He’s a fictional American who works long hours, lots of overtime, and is in serious financial trouble. Dave can take two approaches to getting his finances back on track. One is the way real people who lead real, normal lives do it. The other is the way government does it. (Action items below!!)

Monthly spending:$3,820
Monthly salary: $2,170
Monthly deficit: $1,650Dave realizes this is unsustainable and he must cut back. He sits down and takes a serious look at his expenses. He finds a couple of big-ticket items to cut out – it’s difficult, but he does it. He also cuts out a lot of the unnecessary items he’s grown accustomed to in his lifestyle. It’s time to pare down. He manages to cut $1,000 of spending the next month, and will work on cutting even more until he pulls even with his salary, or comes in below so he can pay off his debt and start a savings account. Here are the numbers.

This month’s spending: $3,820
**Cuts his current level of spending**
Next month’s spending: $2,820

And so on. He’s cutting spending and paying off his debt. Look at numbers. They are decreasing, right? They go from the three thousands to the two thousands. That is a real cut. When overall spending actually decreases, there has been a real cut.
Monthly spending: $3,820
Monthly salary: $2,170
Monthly deficit: $1,650Unlike real life, in government, every year there is an automatic spending increase. Let’s apply this concept to Dave and pretend his spending automatically increases by $300 every month, regardless of how much money he makes, or how much he spent the previous month, or even if the spending is worth it. Here are the numbers.

This month’s spending: $3,820
**Automatic spending increase of $300**
Projected spending next month: $4,120

Hmmmm. Dave is getting a lot of pressure from the people who care about him to get his spending under control. Every month he spends more and more. His family is worried. He looks at the projected spending for next month and decides to be responsible by cutting some of that automatic spending increase. Here are the numbers again.

This month’s spending: $3,820
**Cuts to spending increases**
Next month’s spending: $4, 080

But he didn’t cut anything. In fact, he spent MORE. He went from the three thousands to the four thousands! Ask yourself, how is increased spending considered a cut? These are fake cuts. This is also what is known as “baseline budgeting” in government-speak.


$2,820 is less than $3,820 $4,080 is more than $3,820


It’s as simple as that. So when the Super Committee (or any politician) comes out with a plan, look at the summary tables at the back of the plan, after it’s published. Look at the level of spending at the start of the timeline, and look at the level of spending at the end of the timeline (the timeline is usually ten years).  If the number they end up with is smaller than the number they started with, that’s a REAL CUT. If the number they end up with is bigger than the number they started with, that’s a fake cut, a.k.a. business as usual.

Don’t allow the politicians to use gimmicks to lie to you. When you hear the inevitable outcry about Drastic Cuts® destroying the country, you first must look at the numbers and check to see if they increase or decrease. That’s it.


    1. Educate your friends, family, and neighbors about what a real cut looks like, and about this gimmick that politicians use to trick the American people about spending cuts. If we are educated, they can’t lie to us. Or, at least we can catch them when they lie. Share this document and video with everyone you know, post it on Facebook and Twitter, and keep your eye open for specific action items over the next week and a half that will hold resources you can use to educate others.
    2. Start planning for another DEAL IN THE DISTRICT on Thursday, November 17. The Local Coordinators voted to hold a nationwide Deal in the District to express our desire for real cuts. Did you know that even just bringing a small group of people to a member of Congress’ local office can have a huge impact? Watch for more materials over the next few days to help you with your Deal in the District, and start getting the word out today!!



Call to Action
Fake vs. Real Chart 1
Fake vs. Real Chart 2
Educational Ideas
Sample Letter to the Editor
Real Cuts Press Release Template