As most anyone can see, federal spending has gotten out of control. As you read this, the so called “Super Committee” is looking for ways to cut billions from the federal budget in an attempt get spending under control and, hopefully, right the drifting ship that is our economy. While most agree that Congress needs to get spending under control, there’s still a lot of disagreement on how exactly to do that. Fortunately, there are many groups out there providing a substantial amount of ideas on just how we can cut back, and subsequently save consumers billions of tax dollars being wasted on inconsequential or lackluster federal programs.
So what could we easily cut? For one, the Heritage Foundation suggests doing away with the export assistance program (a subsidy for private businesses). The Congressional Budget Office says that even paring back to 2005 levels could save $531 million dollars. Subsidies to private businesses are a huge drain on the federal budget and distort the marketplace, ultimately harming consumers. For instance, we spend $5 billion dollars per year on subsidies to ethanol companies. We all know that ethanol is a form of energy that’s been proven to be less efficient and more expensive than regular fossil fuels. Programs like this that are a handout to private businesses would be an easy way to begin cutting waste out of the federal budget.
The American Consumer Institute held a Capitol Hill briefing where experts discussed ways to cut Medicare and Medicaid costs by reducing blatant fraud and fixing faulty Government (CMS) rules — with at least $100 billion of dollars in savings.
Another great example is high-speed rail. High-speed rail is a boondoggle costing taxpayers billions of dollars without showing any real technological advancement from what’s currently offered and it does nothing to help the environment (as some proponents claim) [See here for everything you ever wanted to know]. Even the Washington Post says that the billions of dollars being spent in California on rail needs to stop. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration wants to spend $53 billion on the failed technology over the next 6 years. It’s a black hole of spending that’s costing taxpayers billions of dollars.
The National Taxpayers Union and the U.S. Public Interest Group teamed up on a study that identified even more that could be cut from the budget with very little effort. The bipartisan team found $132 billion that could be cut from entitlement programs, nearly $215 billion that could be cut from wasteful subsidies to agribusiness and other corporations, and over $428 billion that could be cut form unneeded military and defense programs.
These shouldn’t be difficult cuts to make. Most of these cuts have broad bipartisan support. As Andrew Moylan of the National Taxpayers Union said in the above mentioned report:
“Though it gets drowned out by the din of Washington’s partisan rancor, there is actually a large amount of agreement between watchdog groups both right and left about where the waste is in the budget. We hope this report can aid the Super Committee in the difficult task of repairing the federal balance sheet by giving them suggestions with widespread support.”
Still not satisfied? Check out Citizens Against Government Waste’s Prime Cuts Report. They’ve identified billions of dollars in unneeded and wasteful government spending from the Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, and Energy departments that could save taxpayers $391 billion in the first year of cuts, and $1.8 trillion over 5 years.
As we can see, there are billions of dollars in government waste that could easily be cut tomorrow that is agreed upon by both the left and the right. Will politicians in Washington have the stomach to do what’s needed and make these cuts to try and right the economy? We’ll see in the next few days if the super committee and the rest of Congress have the stomach and will to do what’s necessary and right for the American consumer.
Zack Christenson is a blogger and researcher for the American Consumer Institute