Some Smoke, Mirrors in That $38B in Budget Cuts Dem. priorities take the brunt of cuts, but also many accounting tricks By Mark Russell, Newser Staff Posted Apr 12, 2011 8:34 AM CDT 14 comments Comments The details of last week's $38 billion in spending cuts have both Democrats and Republicans less than happy. (Shutterstock) (Newser) – Sure, Congress is patting itself on the back over $38 billion in spending cuts—but many of those savings aren't what they seem, reports the Washington Post. Mandatory programs are protected by law, so $17.8 billion of those cuts will go right back up next year. The $4.9 billion cut from the Justice Department's Crime Victims Fund came from a reserve fund that was not going to be spent. The $500 million in savings from the Pell Grant program had already been made. And the $3.5 billion "cut" from the Children’s Health Insurance Program is mostly money that wouldn't have been spent anyway. Of the $19.8 billion in domestic discretionary spending cuts, though, the majority will come from programs Republicans have long disliked. The departments of Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services comprise 28% of non-defense discretionary spending, but are in line for 52% of the cuts. The EPA will take a $1.6 billion cut, about 16% of its budget. Still, some Republicans are wary: “I’m not sure that this agreement will look quite as good under the light of day,” says Rep. Bill Huizenga.