NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Few Government Programs Die

September 18, 1997

According to recent analysis, Congress has cut few government programs of significance while larger outdated ones continue to grow.

A list of 200 programs cut in this Congress shows most carry prices tags of less than $1 million:

  • Total savings from closing over 200 programs comes to only $4 billion.
  • These savings amount to a mere 0.2 percent of the $1.7 trillion federal budget.
  • The list of shutdowns include such small programs as the Women's Educational Equity Act, the U.S. Travel and tourism Administration, and elimination of ice deliveries to the White House.

Big ticket programs that Congress determined have lost their value to the taxpayer have almost entirely missed the cuts, analysts point out:

  • Closure of some 22 programs identified as outdated or able to be privatized would produce savings of over $20 billion.
  • These programs include Community Development Block Grants ($4.8 billion), Summer Youth Employment and Training ($871 million) and the Amtrak passenger rail system ($552 million).
  • Closure of the Departments of Commerce, Education and Energy would save almost $20 billion a year.

In addition, many of these programs have grown significantly over the past several years, figures show:

  • Americorp's budget, which was $426 million when the current Congress began, is now at $504 million.
  • The budget of the Goals 2000 program in the Department of Education has nearly tripled, from $231 million to $688 million.

Stephen Moore (Cato Institute), "Federal Shrinkage Losing to Elasticity," Washington Times, September 18, 1997.


Browse more articles on Tax and Spending Issues