As I’ve noted before, newly empowered Republicans will have no choice but to act fast in slashing federal spending to balance the budget. In the long run, that will require them to reform entitlements. But what about next year’s budget?
He describes the principles guiding the cuts as:
- Empowering state and local governments. Congress should focus the federal government on performing a few duties well and allow the state and local governments, which are closer to the people, to creatively address local needs in areas such as transportation, justice, job training, and economic development.
- Consolidating duplicative programs. Past Congresses have repeatedly piled duplicative programs on top of preexisting programs, increasing administrative costs and creating a bureaucratic maze that confuses people seeking assistance.
- Privatization. Many current government functions could be performed more efficiently by the private sector.
- Targeting programs more precisely. Corporate welfare programs benefit those who do not need assistance in the American free enterprise system. Other programs often fail to enforce their own eligibility requirements.
- Eliminating outdated and ineffective programs. Congress often allows the federal government to run the same programs for decades, despite many studies showing their ineffectiveness.
- Eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse. Taxpayers will never trust the federal government to reform major entitlements if they believe that the savings will go toward “bridges to nowhere,” vacant government buildings, and Grateful Dead archives.
Some of the major cuts are:
- $60 billion by repealing the unspent economic stimulus spending
- $45 billion by devolving the federal highway program and most transit spending to the states
- $20 billion by rescinding unobligated balances after 36 months
- $15 billion by replacing farm subsidies with Farmer Savings Accounts and improved crop insurance
- $10 billion by cutting the federal employee travel budget to $4 billion
The full list is here.
Some of these cuts seem pretty painless and, given the times we’re in, like no-brainers — making federal employees fly coach, for instance. Others will cause some shrieks from the people who were accustomed to feeding at the federal trough.
The message of the side that’s going to win this election is that, shrieks be damned, the cuts have to be made. I don’t think the voters will let them get away with backpedaling from that message.