“This agreement between Democrats and Republicans, on behalf of all Americans, is on a budget that invests in our future while making the largest annual spending cut in our history.’’
— President Obama, April 8, 2011
“This week, Congress is moving toward approval of an agreement on the largest spending cut in history to help begin to create a better environment for private-sector job growth.”
— House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), USA Today op-ed, April 11, 2011
“Biggest cuts in U.S. history”
—Washington Post front-page headline, April 9, 2011
After a tense few weeks over haggling over the fiscal 2011 budget, the White House and congressional lawmakers cinched a deal that they said will result in $38.5 billion in cuts. As the quotes above indicate, they then quickly called it a historic achievement. Even the news media got into the act, echoing the assertions.
The Fact Checker, however, is wary of raw numbers. Thanks to inflation, dollars (and budgets) get bigger every year. For instance, retail gasoline cost about 25 cents a gallon in 1918 and is estimated to average about $3.70 this year. That sounds like a huge jump, until you realize that the inflation-adjusted price of gasoline in 1918 is $3.61. That’s the proper comparison.