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House budget debate involves charts featuring Big Macs

The debate over a House of Representatives budget bill got caught up in the price of a Big Mac.
By Gabrielle Levy   |   April 8, 2014 at 5:43 PM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, April 8 (UPI) -- The House of Representatives Tuesday passed a budget bill that would require the Congressional Budget Office to stop taking inflation into account when it does its calculations.

But before they did so, the debate got a little silly.

Georgia Republican Bob Woodall argued the baseline budget adjustment in the bill will prevent the CBO from falsely crediting spending cuts when funding has remained at a stable dollar amount, but lost value due to inflation.

"This bill puts a stop to Washington math forever," Woodall declared.

But Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, took issue with the idea of dismissing inflation as a measure of calculating government spending.

Van Hollen pulled out no less than three different charts illustrating how, in the past 10 years, inflation has meant "less burger for your buck."

Each was a variation on showing how the price of a Big Mac at McDonalds has jumped from $2.71 to $4.62 since 2004.

"For $2.71 today, you don't get as big a hamburger. Right?" Van Hollen said. "We would all love to repeal inflation...but that's not the real world."

Woodall wasn't sold.

"I think I've got one of the best chart teams on Capitol Hill, I'll say to my friend from Maryland that it's a great Big Mac chart, and I think it drives home my point exactly.

Which is federal government math assumes that if you got to buy a Big Mac 10 years ago, you're still buying a Big Mac today. I just wonder if that's true. I've switched to the value menu. I get the McDouble from time to time for $.99. The Spicy McChicken is now a part of what I do. I have to get into my wallet and justify the expense and when the prices double, sometimes we as Americans have to substitute."

Enjoy the exchange in all its glory:

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