Posted by: Deborah D | December 6, 2010

What Congress should cut.

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What Congress should cut.

Brian Riedl of the Heritage Foundation has looked at federal spending and has a dozen good suggestions for the incoming 112th Congress about where they can and should make cuts to the federal budget. Let’s hope they listen. You might want to send this column to your representative. It might actually give them a few ideas. This is from National Review Online.

If the 2010 election produced any conservative mandates, they are to create jobs and to rein in soaring spending and deficits. Republicans should begin implementing this agenda by extending the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts and paring back a government that now spends a staggering $30,000 per household annually.

…Federal spending — rising from its historical average of 20 percent of the economy to a projected 26 percent by the end of the decade — is the moving variable.

Nearly all of this new spending will come from Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and interest on the debt. Combined and adjusted for inflation, these annual expenditures will rise from $1.6 trillion to $3 trillion over this decade. Therefore, budget reform must include putting Social Security and Medicare on a fixed long-term budget with a capped growth rate.

Yet major entitlement reforms would be phased in slowly. In the meantime, Congress should enact government-wide spending caps that gradually return spending to 20 percent or less of GDP.

…The 112th Congress should target programs based on their economic impact, their cost, and the feasibility of reforming them. It should build credibility with the public by including cuts in the federal government’s spending on itself, unpopular earmarks, and even traditional conservative spending programs.

One. Freeze and reform federal pay. Before Washington asks Americans to tighten their belts, it must tighten its own…the average federal employee receives 30 to 40 percent more in total compensation than the equivalent private-sector worker; all this extra pay adds up to $47 billion. Lawmakers should freeze federal pay until it can be fundamentally reformed. Snip —

He goes on to say that Congress should cut its own budget as well. Return congressional pay to 2008 levels. Cut down on travel budgets, office space acquisition and require employees to fly coach.

Two. Ban earmarks. These symbols of waste and corruption cannot be salvaged. Taxpayers will never accept Social Security and Medicare reforms if they believe the savings will go toward bridges to nowhere.  Snip —

That would save $20 billion annually. He goes on to say don’t allow bureaucrats to decide which projects get funded in the place of earmarks.

Three. Ban corporate welfare. Even before bailing out Wall Street, Washington spent more on corporate welfare than on homeland security. The public will not trust conservatives to reform middle- and lower-income entitlement programs unless they are also willing to stop granting special favors to their friends in business…

Most corporate-welfare spending is buried in obscure projects with harmless-sounding names like the “Technology Innovation Program.” Rather than terminate each program individually, Congress could ban subsidies for (but not contracts with) businesses that have gross revenues above a certain level.

Four. Reform farm subsidies. The $25 billion farm-subsidy system is a case study in economic illiteracy. It subsidizes growers of five crops (wheat, cotton, corn, soybeans, and rice) even if they’re millionaires while bypassing producers of nearly all other farm products even if their income is meager…

There is much more at the link. He also includes repealing Obamacare even if Obama will veto it. He also suggest they go about taking it apart piece by piece in various ways, which include refusal of funding and blocking and slowing down its implementation. Come January we’ll see how serious our new Congress is, and we must stay serious ourselves. We can’t let them forget that we’re watching and that we’ll be voting again in less than two years. Read it all here:


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