“Citizens Against Government Waste is Washington's leading opponent of pork-barrel spending.”- Washington Post
The November elections gave the Republican Party control of the Senate and a larger majority in the House. Congress now has a clear mandate to reduce spending by eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement.
First, however, the current Congress must grapple with a major budget decision. The federal government is currently being funded by a continuing resolution (CR), which will expire on December 11, 2014. Members of Congress must decide how they intend to fund the government through the remainder of fiscal year (FY) 2015 by passing either a short-term CR or a year-long spending bill. Hanging over this deadline is the nation’s record $17.9 trillion national debt, which is a constant reminder of the profligate spending that has become rampant in Washington.
It is within the context of this looming spending decision and the agenda for the new Congress that Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) releases Prime Cuts 2014. CAGW has been publishing the document since 1993. This year’s version contains 604 recommendations that would save taxpayers $641.9 billion in the first year and $2.7 trillion over five years. Since the organization’s inception in 1984, the implementation of CAGW’s recommendations has helped save taxpayers $1.4 trillion.
Prime Cuts 2014 can serve as a valuable resource for paring down a bloated federal budget. No area of government spending is spared. For example, the report proposes eliminating the Market Access Program (MAP), which aims to help agricultural producers promote U.S. products overseas. However, MAP is a really a corporate welfare program that funnels millions of dollars to large, profitable corporations and trade associations that can well afford to pay for their own ads. Eliminating MAP would save taxpayers $1 billion over five years.
The recommendations also include long-standing proposals to eliminate the sugar, dairy and peanut programs; reduce Medicare improper payments by 50 percent; replace the $1 bill with the $1 coin; and increase the use of both cloud computing and software asset management tools.
Finally, numerous cuts could be made to the Department of Defense (DOD) without jeopardizing national security, including eliminating congressional add-ons for the M1 Abrams tank retrofit program. In 2011, Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno told Congress that the Army had a sufficient number of tanks; the Pentagon proposed suspending production until 2017, saving $3 billion. However, much of Congress disagrees, likely due to the tank’s many suppliers spread across a vast number of congressional districts. Legislators have continually added earmarks for the program, including one worth $90 million in FY 2014.
While some in Congress consider DOD spending to be sacrosanct, U.S. military brass is on board with cost savings at the Pentagon. In August 2013, Navy Vice Admiral David Dunaway stated, “In the face of decreasing budgets, rapidly evolving threats, and a shift in national defense strategy that demands more than ever from our naval forces, it’s imperative that every dollar spent increase warfighting capability.”
By following the blueprint provided by CAGW’s Prime Cuts 2014, wasteful government spending can be cut and the nation can start on a path toward fiscal sanity. Prime Cuts 2014 is essential reading for taxpayers, the media, and legislators alike.