$85 billion--a very large number--is 2013's share of the dreaded sequestration (automatic spending cuts), should it become a reality.
Now I'm no genius by any stretch, but $85 billion seems to me, alas, to be a very small number when we're talking cutting government spending. In terms of what the federal government is spending in excess of its income (about $1 trillion this year), we're talking a mere 8.5%. In terms of total spending ($3.8 trillion this year), we're talking 2.25%.
So $85 billion is no big deal, right? Well, right, and, well, wrong. Right, in that the predictions of economic doom and gloom should policymakers not (yet again) kick the sequester can down the road are grossly unfounded. Wrong, in that the fact that $85 billion, against $3.8 trillion in annual spending, is a small number inspires shoulder-shrugging so-what-ness when it comes to proposed tax and spending increases. I.e., give them a billion and they'll, in "small" increments, turn it into a trillion. I.e., when we're talking spending increases, $85 billion---to the politician---is no big deal. But when we're talking spending cuts, suddenly, it's an economy-killing number. Utter nonsense!
And as for the would-be, were it not for the military, deficit hawks; they seem to understand that bureaucrats are egregious spenders. Yet, while screaming for abstinence, they stop cold when it comes to the military cuts included in the sequester. So how is it that our elected officials can be so inept in the allocation of 75% of expenditures, and yet be so adept when it comes to the 25% spent on military? Answer, they can't!
So please, don't sweat the sequester...