Is this initiative, announced by Rep. Eric Cantor (R., Va.) today on Big Government, a bit gimmicky and pandering? Sure. But it’s also a pretty cool idea:
Today, we are launching YouCut – a first-of-its-kind project designed to defeat the permissive culture of runaway spending in Congress. It allows YOU to vote, both online and on your cell phone, on spending cuts that you want to see the House – YOUR HOUSE – enact. That’s right, instead of Washington telling YOU how THEY will spend YOUR money, YOU can tell THEM how to save it. After several days of voting, on Monday, May 17th, we will announce the first winner and later that week House Republicans will call for an up-or-down vote on the spending cut. We will repeat this cycle every week for the rest of the year.
- Eliminate the Presidential Election Fund, a federal program that provides matching funds to political candidates during Presidential primaries, certain third-party candidates, and funds for political conventions. In the 2008 Presidential election the candidates raised over $1.3 billion from individuals and PACs; do they really need to supplement that with taxpayer money?
- Prohibiting taxpayer-subsidized union activities by prohibiting federal employees from being paid by the government for performing union functions. Currently some federal employees spend up to 100% of their workweek, paid by taxpayers, doing work for their union. Federal employees unions collect millions in revenue each year and spend significant amounts on political activities and lobbying; should they also be subsidized by the taxpayer for their official functions?
- Terminate the Department of Housing and Urban Development program that provides individuals with $25,000 stipends for completing their doctoral dissertations. Recently taxpayers have financed research on media strategies for housing policy and the use of eminent domain for urban redevelopment. Why should families who are struggling to pay for their children’s college also be asked to fund stipends from the government for those who want to write their dissertation on certain government-preferred policies?
- Terminate the new alternative welfare program, recently created to incentivize states to increase their welfare caseloads without requiring able-bodied adults to work, get job training, or otherwise prepare to move off of taxpayer assistance. Reforming the welfare program was one of the great achievements of the Republican Congress in the mid 1990s, saving taxpayers billions of dollars and ending the cycle of dependency on welfare. This new program ushered in by Democrats is merely a backdoor way to undo those reforms.
- Focus federal economic development assistance on areas of need. The Community Development Block Grant program currently funds a wide range of local economic development activities. While it is advertised as a way to help low-income communities, funds are also dispersed to communities with income well-above the national average. A recent study found that the community of Newton, Massachusetts, with a per capita income over twice the national average, was receiving $28 per person in CDBG funds. At the same time, other communities with income 25% below the national average were receiving $10 per person.
I’d vote for #2. What about you?