Presidential candidate Donald Trump says that he will balance the federal budget while also cutting taxes. Given that the gap between federal spending and revenues is more than $500 billion and rising, he is going to need lots of spending cuts to make that happen.
In his big speech last night Trump said:
We are going to ask every department head in government to provide a list of wasteful spending projects that we can eliminate in my first 100 days. The politicians have talked about this for years, but I'm going to do it.
That’s great. Here are 10 “wasteful spending projects” (with annual costs) that Trump should put in his 100-day elimination plan:
Farm subsidies, which enrich wealthy landowners and harm the environment, $29 billion.
- Energy subsidies, which have been one boondoggle after another for decades, $5 billion.
- The war on drugs, which wastes police resources and generates violence, $15 billion.
- Federal aid for K-12 schools, which generates huge bureaucracy and stifles innovation, $25 billion.
- Excess pay for federal workers, especially gold-plated retirement benefits, which should be cut 10 percent to save $33 billion.
- Housing subsidies, which distort markets and damage cities, $37 billion.
- Community development and rural subsidies, which is corporate welfare used for buying votes, $18 billion.
- Urban transit and passenger rail funding, which is properly a local and private responsibility, $15 billion.
- Obamacare exchange subsidies and Medicaid expansion, which should be repealed along with the overall law, $200 billion a year by 2023.
- TSA airport screening, which Trump said last night is “a total disaster,” and which should be devolved to local and private control, $5 billion.
In November 2008, President Obama promised to “go through our federal budget – page by page, line by line – eliminating those programs we don’t need.” He did not follow through, and neither do most politicians on such promises, as Trump noted.
Would Trump be any different? I have no idea. But I do know that the next president—whether Trump, Clinton, or Johnson—will face huge budget pressures as deficits soar and the economy possibly descends into another recession.
Federal spending cuts would help avert a fiscal crisis and boost growth by reducing economic distortions. We’ve got plenty of reform ideas at www.cato.org and DownsizingGovernment.org, and the Heritage Foundation has an impressive new study on budget reforms as well. So think tank experts know how to balance the budget—the real question is whether the next president will want to make it happen.