Do you borrow 37 cents of every dollar you spend? Hopefully not, but the federal government does!
Posted by iusbvision on October 29, 2010
Earlier this month, the Obama administration reported that the federal deficit hit a near-record $1.3 trillion for fiscal year 2010. That means the government had to borrow 37 cents out of every dollar it spent. If Congress continues existing taxing and spending policies, federal deficits will reach a projected $2 trillion deficit in just 10 years. America cannot survive such sustained deficits, and Americans know it. According to a poll conducted last week by The Hill, 52% of independent voters surveyed cited debt reduction as a priority, compared with only 39 percent who said additional federal spending to create jobs is more important.
Our nation’s deficits are, in reality, a spending problem. Even if the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts are made permanent, revenues are set to return to their post-World War II average of 18% by 2020. Spending, on the other hand, continues to explode. After averaging 20% since World War II, federal spending is set to soar to 26% of the gross domestic product (GDP) by 2020. If Congress is to have any chance of cutting the deficit, spending must be cut. But how?
The lion’s share of spending growth is due to the big three entitlement programs: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Heritage has Solutions for each of these programs including: 1) transforming Social Security into a real insurance program that offers a safety net for poorer retirees; 2) transforming Medicare into a defined contribution system that would be capped and reviewed periodically; and 3) changing Medicaid from a open-ended entitlement into an insurance-based model of private coverage. But these are all long-term reforms that will take time to implement. What can the next Congress do as soon as they take office to prove to the American people that they are serious about cutting spending?
The Heritage Foundation’s Brian Riedl has identified $343 billion in spending cuts that can be made for the fiscal year 2012 budget. You can see a table of all the cuts here. The bulk of the cuts fall into six areas:
- Empowering state and local governments. Congress should focus the federal government on performing a few duties well and allow the state and local governments, which are closer to the people, to creatively address local needs in areas such as transportation, justice, job training and economic development.
- Consolidating duplicative programs. Past Congresses have repeatedly piled duplicative programs on top of preexisting programs, increasing administrative costs and creating a bureaucratic maze that confuses people seeking assistance.
- Privatization. Many current government functions could be performed more efficiently by the private sector.
- Targeting programs more precisely. Corporate welfare programs benefit those who do not need assistance in the American free enterprise system. Other programs often fail to enforce their own eligibility requirements.
- Eliminating outdated and ineffective programs. Congress often allows the federal government to run the same programs for decades, despite many studies showing their ineffectiveness.
- Eliminating waste, fraud and abuse. Taxpayers will never trust the federal government to reform major entitlements if they believe that the savings will go toward “bridges to nowhere,” vacant government buildings and Grateful Dead archives.
$343 billion in spending cuts will not balance our nation’s $1.3 trillion budget deficit. But it would be great start to permanently shrinking the size and power of the federal government.
Entitlement programs are hard to cut but we can limit the growth of these programs to a level that is more sustainable. We need to reinstate the Clinton/Gingrich welfare reform package that Obama reversed with the stimulus package. We need to have public assistance programs that have the right incentives for training, education and least some work; as it stands now if a welfare recipient finds a part-time job or at least something they are punished with loss of Medicare or other punitive measures. The point should be to help ease people off public assistance, not lock them in dependency. The Indiana HIP program instituted by Governor Mitch Daniels (which was nuked by ObamaCare) is a fine example of a state run health program with smart incentives that save money.
We need policies that grow the economy and lure jobs back from overseas. We have lost 42, 400 factories since 2001. That is a great deal of lost tax revenue. Wealth goes where it is treated well and wealth is not treated well here due to government policy. Face it, our private sector cannot support a government that costs $3 Trillion a year and remain competitive.
We need a tax code that is not 67,000 pages and costs billions to attempt to comply with which results in companies like Google paying 2.4% federal income tax while President Obama lavishes praise upon them while at the same time he attacks the Chamber of Commerce.
We need to review every government program, said programs have to justify their expense. Are they doing a better and more efficient job than if the money were just returned to the tax payer or the states or retiring the deficit? The bureaucracy is now so big it is becoming ungovernable. We need to ban public sector unions, aside from the obvious conflict of interest these unions have when it comes to government largess, federal government employees make between 30% to 300% more than their private sector counterparts.
Earmark spending must go, while earmarks are not the largest expenditure, it is the earmark process that is used to reward clients and lobbyists and they in turn kick money back to incumbents.
We also need to stop trashing our currency which is causing prices to go up fast over the last 2 years.