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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Budget games: Debt ceiling plan counts on war savings -- Don't bet on it, buddy

Senate Democrats want to cut an eye-popping $1 trillion in war spending over the next 10 years.

The proposal is part of the plan Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Monday to raise the debt ceiling through 2013 and slash $2.7 trillion overall.

But many Republicans aren't likely to buy it.

The argument goes like this: Reid's proposed cuts for spending in Iraq and Afghanistan aren't real because Democrats are working off an inflated number that assumes the wars will continue at full tilt for the next decade.

And since the Obama administration has already started to wind down the wars, the extra money was never going to be spent, and shouldn't count as a cut.

"That's going to be a tough sell in some circles," said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a former CBO director and president of the conservative American Action Forum. "They're not going to be viewed as real spending cuts."

Indeed, Sen. Jon Kyl, the No. 2 Senate Republican, called it "phony scoring." (more)