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PoliGraph: Peterson overreaches in budget claim

poligraph-misleading.JPGU.S. Rep. Collin Peterson says the House Agriculture Committee is taking a disproportionate hit under GOP Rep. Paul Ryan's proposed budget plan.

"Overall, we're talking about a 25 percent cut for [the Agriculture Committee], and we're not seeing 25 percent cuts to other parts of the budget bill," he told the Fergus Falls Daily Journal on April 12, 2011.

The Agriculture Committee, which Peterson serves on, could see big budget cuts, but it isn't the only one.

The Evidence

The Ryan proposal outlines future spending for 16 House committees. Six of them, including Armed Services, which is slated to get $1.7 trillion over 10 years and Foreign Affairs, which is expected to get $242 billion over 10 years, would see no budget cuts.

The remaining 10 committees would see billions slashed from their allowances, including the Agriculture Committee. Under current law, Peterson's panel is expected to get about $763 billion over the next 10 years. If Ryan's budget is adopted, that figure would be reduced to about $585 billion - about a 25 percent reduction in the panel's budget authority.

Those cuts include a $30 billion reduction in farm subsidies and a $127 billion reduction in spending on food stamps.

But Peterson is incorrect when he implies that other committees aren't seeing 25 percent cuts. For instance, the Education and Workforce Committee will see a more than 250 percent cut in its budget authority. The Homeland Security Committee will see an 88 percent cut in its budget authority. And the Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over health programs including Medicare, would see a 30 percent reduction in its pool of cash.

It's worth noting that the committees that would see the largest percentage cuts would produce the smallest savings. For instance, cutting the Homeland Security's budget will only save the government $16.6 billion compared to the $177 billion Ryan wants to pull from the farm committee's pockets.

Still, even when it comes to dollar amounts, the Agriculture Committee comes in a distant third compared to the Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means committees, which would both see about $1.3 trillion in cuts over the next decade.

The Verdict

Peterson correctly points out that his committee would see a 25 percent reduction in spending if the Ryan budget is passed. That's a lot of money, but Peterson misleads people when he contends that other committees aren't in the same boat. In terms of percentages and dollar amounts, other panels would see bigger cuts.

-- By Catharine Richert

SOURCES

The Fergus Falls Daily Journal, Peterson: Ag subsidy cuts excessive, by Tom Hintgen, April 12, 2011

The House of Representatives Budget Committee, Concurrent Resolution on the Budget - Fiscal Year 2012, accessed April 14, 2011

Congressional Research Service, Reductions in Mandatory Agriculture Spending, Jim Monke and Megan Stubbs, May 19, 2010

Interview, Liz Friedlander, spokeswoman, House Agriculture Committee, April 14, 2011

Interview, Brian Riedl, The Heritage Foundation, April 14, 2011

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