Nowhere to Cut?

After five years of enormous deficits, our national debt now stands at over $17 trillion.  The only spending restraint that Congress has been able to achieve so far is an approximately one trillion dollar “sequester” over ten years, therefore amounting to about $100 billion per year in spending cuts.  Federal expenditures have actually dropped for two years in a row now so the sequester really does work.  Of course, almost everyone complains about cutting spending in such a “dumb” way.  Why not make intelligent budget cuts by eliminating the least effective programs instead of having to make small percentage cuts in all discretionary spending, good and bad alike?  Well, this really should not be all that difficult to do if Congress would try a little harder.
The Congressional Budget Office has just released a helpful report, “Options for Reducing the Deficit:  2014 to 2023”, which lists 103 ways for either decreasing spending or increasing revenues over the next decade.  Amazingly, enacting all of these proposals would amount to a budget savings of $13 trillion over 10 years, ten times what is required by the sequester!  Here are some examples of what could be done (along with the 10 year savings):

  • Eliminate direct payments to agricultural producers                             $25 billion
  • Increase federal insurance premiums for private pensions                    $5 billion
  • Reduce the amounts of federal pensions                                               $6 billion
  • Tighten eligibility for food stamps                                                          $50 billion
  • Use more accurate measure of inflation for all mandatory programs  $162 billion
  • Replace some military personnel with civilian employees                     $19 billion
  • Limit highway funding to expected highway revenues                           $65 billion
  • Eliminate grants to large and medium sized airports                               $8 billion
  • Eliminate subsidies for Amtrak                                                               $15 billion
  • Reduce the size of the federal workforce through attrition                     $43 billion
  • Tax carried interest as ordinary income                                                 $17 billion
  • Limit medical malpractice torts                                                               $57 billion
  • Raise the age of eligibility for Medicare to 67                                         $23 billion
  • Modify Tricare fees for working-age military retirees                              $71 billion
  • Total                                                                                                      $566 billion

Right here is more than enough to offset half of the sequester.  You don’t like these cuts?  Then replace them with others from the CBO report.  There are lots of options to choose from!

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