Last week, House Republicans identified a list of $69 billion worth of spending cuts over five years. This might sound good, but in actuality it spends 99% as much as President Obama this year, and 97% as much as the president over the next five years. At The Corner, Heritage fellow Brian Riedl lays out some more aggressive steps conservatives could take to control exploding Washington spending:
It’s easiest to start with the most blatant waste: $55 billion in annual program overpayments; $25 billion in unused federal property; $17 billion in annual earmarks; $123 billion for programs for which government auditors can find no evidence of success; and $140 billion in potential budget savings identified by the Congressional Budget Office.
They should then move onto large reforms, including:
- Eliminating the $60 billion spent annually on corporate welfare programs.
- Reducing farm subsidies for large and profitable agribusinesses, which actually worsen the farm economy.
- Devolving functions like highways, economic development, education, housing, and anti-poverty programs to state and local governments that are closest to the people. This would eliminate the expensive Washington middleman, and tailoring local programs to local needs (while eliminating failed programs) would surely save tax dollars. Given the unpopularity of Washington, this should be a no-brainer.
- Most importantly, addressing Social Security and Medicare, which would otherwise require a doubling of all current tax rates. A logical place to start would be a progressive indexing of Social Security benefits for upper-income seniors and also stopping over-subsidizing the Medicare B and D premiums for upper-income seniors.