The Washington Post

The 2011 spending cuts in one graph

The details on the cuts in the 2011 continuing resolution are out, and guess what I did? Yep, made a graph.

The cuts are broken down by area of appropriations, which can get a bit confusing. Normal people don’t group commerce, justice and science together in their heads, but for funding purposes, Congress does. And as you can see in the chart, they took a big whack — total funding is down 12 percent from the president’s 2011 funding request. The other big losers? Labor, health and human services and education, which lost about 8 percent, and transportation, housing and urban development, which took a 20 percent hit.

I’ve built the chart to offer two different looks at the cuts: The blue bar compares the CR to the levels we actually appropriated in 2010, while the green line compares to the president’s budget request for 2011. One interesting discrepancy jumps out when you do that: Defense is one of the few areas that actually got a funding boost against 2010 levels, but President Obama had asked for such a large increase in the Defense Department’s funding this year that they took the largest hit compared to his request.

If you read the linked document, you’ll see a lot more information on the specific nature of the cuts. The AP took a look and concluded that “lawmakers significantly eased the fiscal pain by pruning money left over from previous years, using accounting sleight of hand and going after programs President Barack Obama had targeted anyway.” Conservatives don’t seem happy about that, but it gives some more weight to the White House’s argument that what they lost in the overall number of cuts they made up in the location of cuts.


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