The Corner

Bipartisan Budget Cuts

Over at the Huffington Post, Andrew Moylan (National Tax Payers Union) and Nicole Tichon (Public Interest Research Group) forget about their political differences and propose $600 billion worth of budget cuts.

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) and National Taxpayers Union (NTU) have joined together to propose a list of 30 specific recommendations to reform our future spending commitments. If enacted in their entirety, these changes would save taxpayers over $600 billion in total by 2015, the target date for the Fiscal Commission to reduce our publicly-held debt-to-GDP ratio to a more sustainable level of 60 percent. While our organizations have often differed about the proper regulatory scope of government and a host of tax policies, we are united in the belief that we spend far too much money on ineffective programs that do not serve the best interests of the American people.

Obviously, reform of entitlement programs will be needed to fix the long-term debt problem. We’re facing structural problems that won’t be addressed permanently without fundamental changes. But this is still a great project, because it shows that in theory a bipartisan agreement can be reached to cut the budget significantly. The cuts would include the following:

1. $62 billion in savings by eliminating wasteful subsidies to farmers and large corporations.

2. $354 billion in savings from reforming inefficient contract and acquisition procedures.

3. $77 billion in savings by improving execution of existing government programs as well as eliminating unneeded programs.

4. $108 billion in savings from ending low-priority or unnecessary weapons systems, along with rightsizing other programs.

This report also shows that a growing number of people are willing to drop political rhetoric and reach across political  lines to come up with ways to get the country out of this fiscal mess. Interestingly, those who do often conclude that it can be done without “eviscerating the American middle class.”

Also, this morning my colleague Matt Mitchell sent me a link to a good interview of Glenn Hubbard, dean of Columbia University’s business school, about choosing what type of country we want America to be. I find Hubbard — who has a new book out — very balanced and uplifting. He frames the issue we face very nicely. One example:

The real discussion is not whether to extend the tax cuts, but what’s the size of government? If we really want the government that’s in President Obama’s budget, we need to repeal all of the 2001, 2003 tax cuts and then some. We probably need a new tax system.

The whole interview is here.

Update: Brian Riedl of The Heritage Foundation just released a paper that proposes to cut $343 billion off the FY2012 budget.


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