WASHINGTON — Finally, a plan to avoid the "fiscal cliff" that includes spending cuts.
On Monday, Republican House Speaker John Boehner proposed cutting $900 billion in entitlement spending and $300 billion in discretionary spending over the next decade. Boehner also suggested $800 billion over the next decade in higher taxes, but importantly not through higher tax rates.
Even the scheduled, dreaded budget cuts due on Jan. 1 will not cause spending to decline in real terms — it will continue to grow steadily even if we go off the cliff. That’s because congressional spending cuts for a given year are not subtracted from the prior year’s spending, but from a budget projection that grows on autopilot. And entitlement programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security will grow without interruption. That explains how Congress can claim to cut spending over 10 years, yet produce a series of budgets in which spending increases.