25 Ways to Cut Government Spending

By: Joe Messerli

Some of these cuts may seem tough, but remember that every dollar spent with these and other government programs must come from other areas. Monday is a finite resource; in a perfect world, we can fund everything. In a world of reality, we have to make choices.
  1. Eliminate all or almost all of the Department of Education. This organization is nothing but a giant bureaucracy that wastes billions of dollars that should go to schools & kids. It sets rules and guidelines that can and should be handled at the state and local level.

  2. Convert all pensions of government employees to 401Ks. A pension promises a built-in guaranteed rate of return which is often based on some historical rate that is nearly impossible to match in today's volatile investment environment. Thus, losses and shortfalls from an underperforming market or poorly management pension portfolio must be absorbed by the taxpayers. Pensions are becoming obsolete in private industry for this very reason.

  3. Eliminate all pensions and benefits for Senators, Congresspeople, and Presidents after they leave office. Taxpayers shouldn't have to foot the bill for a lifetime of pension costs for someone who serves a few years in office.

  4. Cut the growth rate of government spending to zero for all discretionary items. Most people don't realize that in politician-speak, a "cut" is a cut in the growth rate of spending, not in absolute terms. For example, if the government spends $200 billion in 2010, $220 billion in 2011, and $231 billion in 2012, it would be considered a "cut in education spending," since the growth rate fell from 10 percent to 5 percent from the previous year.

  5. Make all government benefit programs time-capped. Things like unemployment can be beneficial when someone is down on his luck, but government benefits shouldn't go on long-term.

  6. Repeal or dramatically scale back HIPAA While protecting the privacy of health care patients is a noble goal, this overbloated, far-reaching law is the classic example of government overkill. The unnecessary oversight and ridiculous requirements balloon the cost of health care information processing, all while trying to enforce what most health care providers were already doing before the law went into effect.

  7. Raise the age for social security eligibility for those under 50. Social security came into existence when life spans were around 66. It's dramatically higher now with people routinely living 80, 90, or 100 years. Also, with the majority of modern jobs not being manually labor-intensive, people can work much longer.

  8. Eliminate all earmarks completely. If the expense isn't part of a regular budget, it shouldn't be included in any new bills. Earmarks allow money to enter decision-making, as politicians will horse-trade earmarks for votes, rather than voting on the merits of bills. The result is that new bills are laden with unrelated pork that use up precious taxpayer money.

  9. Pass a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Nothing would be more powerful in getting both parties to compromise and cut spending than making all spending dependent on having a balanced budget.

  10. Cut pay and benefits for military & Pentagon personnel that never serve outside the country or near a combat zone. Out military personnel who serve in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other hot spots around the world deserve by far the highest pay in public service--no question! However, a bureaucrat who puts on a uniform and spends his entire career sitting on his ass at the Pentagon should not be in the same category, and should not be eligible for all the special extra benefits that are rightly given to our true soldiers.

  11. Eliminate Saturday delivery of mail. Most businesses that rely on snail mail operate Monday-Friday anyway. Also, most business & personal communication is done electronically nowadays.

  12. Make Congressional pay incentive-based, with reductions for a budget deficit. Any incentive to cut costs will help.

  13. Reduce federal funding to states dollar-for-dollar by any earmark or new spending project in that state. This cuts out all incentive for politicians to try to add in spending projects for their districts. If total federal funding to the state is reduced for any spending project there, the net effect is that no spending is increased.

  14. Make a portion of every government worker's pay incentive-based. One of the reasons government is so overbloated and inefficient is that workers have no incentive to improve productivity. Pay & promotions are usually time & seniority dependent. Incentives should be introduced at every level--number of applications processed, dollars reduced from annual budget, construction repairs completed--every department can find something to reward. This would help make government closer to the efficiency level of private businesses.

  15. Create objective performance metrics for every new government program. If metrics don't improve after a certain amount of time, discontinue the program or department. Only in government can such abject failures such as the War on Poverty, Stop Smoking campaigns, and Anti-Obesity education continue to get funding indefinitely. Every new program should record some objective base number, and then measure improvements (if any) at certain time intervals. In private industry, poorly-run companies go out of business. The same should be true in government.

  16. Reduce conventional military manpower & weapon construction, replacing the capacity with more special forces capacity. Wars of today are not fought on a battlefield between nations like they were in World World II. Nowadays, small, lean & mean, highly-trained units like the Navy Seal Team Six are needed to fight the main enemy we face--terrorism. Tanks, million-man armies, etc. are good for show, but they're too expensive to maintain when they largely sit on the sideline.

  17. Publicize every cent of government spending, including the senator/congressman's district that headquarters a program. Transparency will subject any wasted spending to the wrath of voters.

  18. Grant the president line-item veto rights to slash any spending project (subject to 2/3rd override by Congress). Governors often have this power at the state level, why not allow the same for the president. Budget horse-trading leads to a ton of wasted spending projects that have nothing to do with Constitution-granted objectives of government. Congressmen often think of nothing more than their own districts and re-election. The president can take the needs of the nation as a whole into account.

  19. Limit all new federal laws to 100 pages in length. Legislation such as Obamacare is clouded in thousands of pages of legalese specifically to hide various provisions and spending from the public. A 100-page limit would make it easier for journalists and watchdog groups to spot any underhanded tricks that add to our deficit and take away more freedoms.

  20. Eliminate subsidies of all private business. Subsidies produce a number of undesirable side effects in addition to wasting taxpayer money. They essentially give politicians a tool to buy votes; also, it can keep failing or outdated companies in business, at the expense of more efficient & modern businesses. Lastly, it limits the prosperity that comes from free trade, as governments from other companies may subsidize local businesses from their own countries or charge tariffs in retaliation.

  21. Build a U.S.-Mexico border fence. Costs are not only incurred for finding & deporting illegal aliens, more importantly, valuable taxpayer benefits are dispensed (for example, to treat illegals who don't have insurance).

  22. Legalize marijuana. Think of all the resources that would be freed up--police, FBI, court resources, government attorneys, etc. In addition, taxes can be levied, which raises revenue without adding spending to the deficit.

  23. Establish a flat tax rate and eliminate the complexity of the tax system. Our impossibly complex tax system is not only difficult to handle on the private side of things, it's also difficult to handle by the government. The IRS has grown massive in size. Employees must deal with processing returns, auditing, fixing errors, cross-checking for cheats, analyzing the legality of deductions, and so on. The cost of the IRS could be a small fraction of the current amount if the tax code was simplified.

  24. Cut funding to the United Nations. While intentions for this organization were once good, it has become a joke of an organization filled with corruption, where dictators & terrorists receive equal representation as legitimate democracies. China and Russia hold absolute veto power to security council resolutions. A vocal, powerful part of the UN uses all its power to thwart Israel in support of terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Until the UN restricts memberships to only legitimate democracies with 1st amendment freedoms and free, fair elections, the U.S. should not give a dime to it.

  25. Cut funding to FEMA. The federal emergency organization is terribly slow, bureaucratic, and poorly set up to handle true emergencies like hurricanes. This is much better handled at the state level or through private organizations such as the Red Cross.

Under Construction -- More Ideas to Come


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