In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Boehner Picks Up Pieces After Report Finds Spending Compromise Means Puny Cuts


Yesterday, his office blasted out a memo fact checking the Politico report.

Budget authority is how much an agency is allowed to spend on a given program - it is literally the license to spend taxpayer dollars.

In Washington terms, "outlays" are how much an agency actually spends over time based on current and prior budget authority. This is what Democrats are referring to: how much these agencies can (and may) spend over the next few months versus how much Congress is cutting from their budgets. And it's misleading.

The final agreement cuts nearly $40 billion in budget authority - taking away the Administration's license to spend that money.

Boehner defended the deal on Sean Hannity's show yesterday, and his press shop forwarded along this blog post from The Weekly Standard and his own op-ed in Politico.

These are both fair ways to look at the issue. Back when the House passed its farther-reaching spending cut bill -- HR 1 -- CBO found that it would reduce appropriations by $61 billion, but only reduce outlays by $9 billion. House Republicans didn't flip out when that news broke. But this debate has been framed as one about "spending cuts," not "cuts in license to spend." Now Republicans are waking up to the distinction, and aren't happy about it.

Still, Republican and Democratic aides both say they're confident the compromise bill will pass both the House and Senate today. Just to be safe, the White House has dispatched aides to whip Democratic votes if the need arises. We'll find out this afternoon around 4 pm.

About The Author


Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at