Tag: spending cuts

A New Low for GOP’s ‘YouCut’

Last year the House Republican leadership created the GOP’s “YouCut” website, which offers several possible spending cuts for citizens to vote on. The cut with the most votes goes to the House floor for an up-or-down vote. It’s a decent idea, but unfortunately, most of the cuts the GOP have offered thus far only amount to chump change.

This week the House Republican leadership finally put the Pentagon on the YouCut chopping block. However, the possible cuts suggested by the GOP are pathetic:

1. Reduce the Department of Defense’s printing and reproduction budget by 10 percent ($36 million in savings in fiscal 2012).

2. Reduce spending for Defense studies, analysis and evaluations by 10 percent ($24 million in savings in fiscal 2012).

3. Restrict payout of annual nationwide adjustment and locality pay for “below satisfactory” civilian Defense employees ($21 million in first-year savings).

To put the potential “savings” in perspective, the United States’ latest act of military adventurism (Libya) has already cost taxpayers $550 million. Take that military-industrial complex!

The Washington Times recently reported that Sen. Rand Paul’s balanced budget plan drew “several fairly vocal objections to it” from his GOP colleagues because he dared to include defense cuts. Indeed, House Republicans left the Pentagon alone when coming up with $61 billion in cuts to discretionary programs for the remainder of the fiscal year.

As my colleague Chris Preble told the Times, playing GloboCop isn’t cheap:

“At the end of the day, even when you take out the cost of the wars, military spending in the base budget has grown close to $1 trillion since 2000,” said Christopher A. Preble, director of foreign-policy studies at the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute. “So, I think there is kind of a growing realization that the cost that we have incurred on behalf of a lot of other places around the world are growing increasingly burdensome, and the military has not exactly been starved of funds.”

The YouCut website says that it “is designed to defeat the permissive culture of runaway spending in Congress.” Nice line, but when it comes to the Pentagon, it appears that the Republican leadership continues to be a-okay with runaway spending. That mentality will hopefully be forced to change due to the government’s sorry fiscal state of affairs. If it does, a Cato essay has plenty of good suggestions for military spending cuts.

Monday Links

Spending Growth: Mandatory Programs

While Congress haggles over Republican ambitions to trim $61 billion in funding for domestic discretionary programs, it’s important to remember that mandatory (or “entitlement”) spending is the main driver of recent and future budget growth.

The following chart compares fiscal 2007 spending to the president’s proposal for fiscal 2012 for the largest areas of overall federal spending:

Note that the area of spending that has increased the most dramatically is “other mandatory.” Major programs in this category range from food stamps to retirement and disability benefits for federal workers. The following chart shows the increase in spending for the largest of these programs:

This area of spending, and the programs that it consists of, are often forgotten in the debate over how to rein in our extraordinary deficits and mounting debt. That needs to change.

Spending Still Increases with GOP Cuts

House Republicans engineered a continuing resolution for fiscal 2011 that would trim $61 billion in “regular” discretionary budget authority versus fiscal 2010. The Obama administration and the Democratic majority in the Senate balked at the cuts, and a two-week continuing resolution will be passed in order to avoid a “government shutdown” and give the sides more time to reach an agreement.

Based on the Congressional Budget Office’s score of the continuing resolution containing $61 billion in funding cuts, and the CBO’s recent budget projections, both discretionary and total federal outlays (actual spending) would still be higher in fiscal 2011 versus fiscal 2010.

Keep these charts in mind the next time you hear or read that the Republicans’ supposedly “major spending cuts” will lead to reduced economic growth and hundreds of thousands of jobs lost.

This Week in Government Failure

Over at Downsizing Government, we focused on the following issues this week:

  • On getting out of Afghanistan.
  • $61 billion in spending cuts amounts to less than a third of what taxpayers will pay in interest on the debt alone this year.
  • The political stakes in the latest debt ceiling game are high. The consequences of failing to use it as an opportunity to start reining in the federal government are even higher.
  • The IRS is handing out “free” candy.
  • New data from the Federal Aviation Administration shows that reported air traffic control errors have increased by 81 percent since 2007.

$61 Billion in Cuts in Perspective

Talk of a government shutdown is heating up. The current continuing resolution funding the government is set to expire on March 4th. Last week, House Republicans passed a bill that would fund the remainder of fiscal 2011 at $61 billion below fiscal 2010 levels. Senate Democrats are balking at the $61 billion in cuts and the president has issued a veto threat.

The following chart measures $61 billion in cuts against the president’s fiscal 2011 estimates for total federal spending, the deficit, and interest on the debt:

As the chart shows, the proposed cuts amount to less than a third of what taxpayers will pay in interest on the debt alone this year.

The $61 billion in cuts, which are woefully insufficient, would come from a relatively small category of government spending (non-defense, discretionary spending). However, that merely indicates the need to tackle defense spending and budget-busting “mandatory” programs. Unfortunately, the president’s latest budget proposal punted on these critical areas, and the Republicans have yet to put forth a plan let alone a coherent message.