Bipartisan Proposals for Spending Cuts

Thanks to the coronavirus recession, the U.S. government is on track to borrow more money in 2020 that it will collect in taxes as it cranks up its deficit spending to unprecedented levels.

That’s the best estimate of the Congressional Budget Office, which finally weighed in on the fiscal impact of the emergency spending authorized by the U.S. Congress in March and April 2020. It’s a nightmare scenario that is raising alarms among government spending watchdogs, where an unusual development has taken place: a bipartisan coalition has formed to call for spending cuts. Mark Tapscott of the Epoch Times has the story:

Officials with the conservative National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF) and liberal U.S. Public Interest Research Group Foundation (USPIRGF) rarely see eye-to-eye, but that didn’t keep them from jointly recommending almost $800 billion in federal spending cuts....

Issued April 23 to little media notice, the report—“Toward Common Ground: Bridging the Political Divide with Deficit Reduction Recommendations for Congress”—points to four major areas where spending can be cut dramatically without compromising the federal government’s essential operations:

  • $62 billion in savings from ending wasteful subsidies.
  • $422 billion from addressing outdated or ineffective military programs.
  • $143 billion from improving program execution and government operations.
  • $170 billion from reforming the operation of entitlement programs.

The recommended cuts range from relatively small like eliminating $4 million worth of perks provided to former presidents to much bigger savings like the $680 million from closing the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.

Perhaps the most surprising thing is that the two interest groups with very different political objectives found so many line items in the federal budget to agree upon in identifying such a large number of ways in which to reduce U.S. government spending. If one thing has become plainly evident from the coronavirus epidemic in the U.S., it’s that much of what the federal government spends money upon provides very little benefit for the people whose lives and livelihoods have been upended by the crisis. Acting to strike out so much wasteful spending will reduce the cost of recovery from the coronavirus with little pain for ordinary Americans.

Craig Eyermann is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute.
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