NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Not All Budget Cuts Have to Hurt

March 14, 2013

The high-profile battle of sequestration has brought to the attention of the American people the importance of spending cuts to reduce the federal deficit. Politicians on both sides of the aisle agree that sequestration is supposed to be painful, cutting right at the heart of discretionary spending. The Obama administration in particular has made statements about the drastic effects of the sequestration cuts on education and transportation. However, there are plenty of smart cuts the government could make without aiming for the jugular, says Citizens Against Government Waste.


  • Raising Medicare's eligibility age by two months per year from age 65 in 2017 to age 67 in 2035 would reduce federal spending by $124.8 billion over 10 years.
  • Eliminating the Rural Utilities Service, which expands electricity service to rural areas, could save $48.1 billion over five years and allow the private sector to assume the responsibility.
  • Reducing improper Medicare payments by 50 percent would save $24 billion over five years.
  • Eliminating Community Development Block Grants, which are marked for infrastructure investments and job creation but are frequently wasted, would save $17 billion over five years.
  • Reducing growth by 20 percent in the Department of Defense's Major Defense Acquisition Portfolio, which conducts research, development and acquisition, would save $14.9 billion over five years.
  • Eliminating the sugar, dairy and peanut subsidies, all price supports that distort the free market, would save $12 billion over five years.
  • Eliminating Amtrak subsidies would save an estimated $7.1 billion over five years.
  • Repealing the Davis-Bacon Act, which requires federal contractors to pay prevailing wages, would save $6.3 billion over five years.
  • Suspending federal land purchases would save $2.3 billion over five years.
  • Selling the Tennessee Valley Authority's electric power assets and privatizing its non-power functions would raise an estimated $1.1 billion over five years.
  • Eliminating Targeted Water Infrastructure Grants, which are duplicative of funding available from other projects, would save an estimated $785 million over five years.
  • Eliminating the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which amounts to corporate welfare for advisers and consultants, would save $715 million over five years.

These are just a few of the 44 recommendations that Citizens Against Government Waste makes. Cuts such as these avoid many of the most divisive debates over federal policies and should be seriously considered.

Source: "Prime Cuts Summary," Citizens Against Government Waste, February 2013.


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