Budget Cut Battles
Top Five Recommendations for Increasing Revenue and Cutting Costs
Government, trillions of dollars in debt, must cut its spending. But why do we let politicians spend OPM (Other People’s Money) to cover the costs of services we could provide for ourselves, saving ourselves lots of money? We could instead shift discretionary spending from politicians to ourselves. That is, use the geonomic approach and cut taxes on our efforts, cut subsidies to special interests, and instead recover and share the commonwealth, society’s surplus, all the money we spend for sites and resources. Then as individuals we’d have plenty to spend on the services we want. This pair of 2009 articles are from Taxpayers for Common Sense (TCS), their newsletter, Volume XIV No. 10 -- February March 6, 2009, on Obama’s cuts, and the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), February 27, 2009, on additional cuts.
by TCS and by POGO
TCS' Budget Cut Battles
Here are some of the best common sense cuts that President Obama has proposed:
Cold War Relic Weapons Systems -- The President has pledged to go after as yet unspecified cold war weapon systems that we don’t use or need. At the top of the list should be the F-22 Raptor, a fighter that was designed to take on the next generation of jets the Soviet Union was going to build. He also proposes to rein in wasteful contracting practices and reform procurement. There are few lobbies that are better funded and connected than the military-industrial complex.
Subsidies for Big Oil -- The FY10 budget proposes several smart ways to cut subsidies for the very lucrative oil and gas sectors. Through the elimination of several tax breaks and royalty loopholes, the Administration tallied more than $30 billion in savings for U.S. taxpayers. The budget proposed repealing and adjusting a number of oil and gas giveaways. These include longstanding subsidies such as the passive loss exemption for oil and gas properties, the percentage depletion allowance for oil and natural gas, and the expensing of tangible drilling costs.
Wasteful Corporate Farm Subsidies -- President Obama has talked about the enormous subsidies rained down on wealthy farmers. One of the many ways farms receive federal subsidies is through what is called “direct payments.” These payments are strictly based on the amount of land you own that has previously been used for agriculture -- you don’t even need to farm to get them. Direct payments were intended to be temporary to wean farmers from subsidies. Instead, they remain and new subsidies have piled up to join direct payments. The President’s proposal would not allow direct payments to farmers who take in more than $500,000 in revenues, which would save $9.8 billion over 10 years. Four other specific agriculture subsidy cuts would save $6.2 billion.
The budget has many other proposed cuts, large and small. Details on earmark reform, elimination of wasteful subsidies to banks in the student loan program, and other agriculture cuts, are just a few of the proposals we look forward to seeing.
What an administration puts in its budget only matters if it gets written into legislation. And President Obama will have a fight on his hands. With enormous budget deficits as far as the eye can see, however, it is a fight worth having. It is, in fact, a fight that must be won.
POGO's Top Five Recommendations for Increasing Revenue and Cutting Costs
Let’s assist the President and Congress in their effort to eliminate wasteful and ineffective programs. These recommendations would result in an increase of over $100 billion in revenue and savings for the federal government, nearly all of which can be accomplished over the next four of five years.
Project On Government Oversight's top five recommendations are:
1, To reduce wasteful military spending, Congress and the Department of Defense need to reform acquisition of weaponry and redefine the military's 21st-century priorities. Estimated Revenue/Savings: $39 billion
2. To ensure that government auditors and Inspectors General have sufficient funding, staffing, and resources to expose wasteful and abusive spending, Federal agencies and Congress must cooperate. In addition, agencies should make every effort to implement the recommendations made by these oversight bodies, or at least provide a satisfactory explanation for not doing so. Experience has shown that increased funding for auditors and investigators ultimately results in greater savings for taxpayers. Estimated Revenue/Savings: $31.5 billion
3. The Department of Energy should downblend its excess highly enriched uranium and sell it as fuel for nuclear reactors. Estimated Revenue/Savings: $21.6 billion
4. Congress and the Department of Energy should substantially reduce the number of deployed nuclear warheads, which would save money not only on the refurbishment of unneeded warheads but also on associated delivery systems. In addition, Congress should quit funding wasteful and unnecessary nuclear weapons facilities and plutonium pits. Estimated Revenue/Savings: $11.2 billion
5. The Department of the Interior should phase out its Royalty-In-Kind program and return to a market-priced Royalty-In-Value program. Estimated Revenue/Savings: Unknown
TOTAL Estimated Revenue/Savings: $103.3 billion
JJS: These are just some obvious cuts. Once they get made, then momentum would build for much more. To completely reverse the push for evermore government spending, the tide for reform would have to bring in a Citizens Dividend, a fair share of “rents”, enabling people to afford any desired service.
Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.
Taxpayers for Common Sense and Clawback name names
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A shot in the Dark
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