Officials with the conservative National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF) and liberal U.S. Public Interest Research Group Foundation (USPIRGF) rarely see eye-to-eye, but that didn’t keep them from jointly recommending almost $800 billion in federal spending cuts.
Nobody knows for sure exactly how big the federal deficit will be after the pandemic has passed, but the figure could easily be somewhere beyond $4 trillion. Politicians in both parties could soon be forced to make tough decisions they have avoided for years.
Issued April 23 to little media notice, the report—“Toward Common Ground: Bridging the Political Divide with Deficit Reduction Recommendations for Congress”—points to four major areas where spending can be cut dramatically without compromising the federal government’s essential operations: $62 billion in savings from ending wasteful subsidies; $422 billion from addressing outdated or ineffective military programs; $143 billion from improving program execution and government operations; and $170 billion from reforming the operation of entitlement programs.
The recommended cuts range from relatively small such as eliminating $4 million worth of perks provided to former presidents, to much bigger savings such as $680 million from closing the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.
Some of the recommendations are certain to run into significant opposition from the Department of Defense (DOD), such as retiring the B-1 strategic bombers and stopping the acquisition of F-35 fighters at the 425 already authorized.
But the two foundations hope their joint action—the current edition is their fourth such report—will spur bipartisan action in Congress on the federal deficit and the national debt.
“Our organizations may differ about what constitutes a proper regulatory and tax system, but we are united in the belief that the federal government spends in ways that are not fiscally sustainable and are often detrimental to the interests of the American people,” they said in a joint statement.
“For NTUF, out-of-control entitlement spending, fueled by demographic changes, is a particular concern. For U.S. PIRG, of particular concern is spending that threatens public health, causes environmental damage or wastes taxpayer dollars through corruption or inefficiency.
“Within this project, we mutually identify areas of wasteful, cronyistic, and excessive spending that plague our federal budget. We hope that these bipartisan spending cuts and reforms will (1) provide Congress with a number of examples of spending reductions that can at least marginally help rein in federal spending, and (2) show that there are areas of agreement that bridge ideological divides if only we seek them out.”
The report has received congressional notice, as Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), praised it in a statement to The Epoch Times, saying, “There’s definitely a need to reduce unnecessary costs as we seek to pay for our current crisis, and a good place to start, and one that’s included in this report, is my bipartisan CENTS Act which would save $150 million by simply changing the composition of coins, because it does not make sense to lose money making money.”
Other advocacy groups concerned about wasteful federal spending lauded NTUF and USPIRGF.
Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) President Tom Schatz told The Epoch Times on April 27 that his group “welcomes every effort to eliminate wasteful spending to help reduce the record deficits and debt being caused by the unprecedented response to the coronavirus.
“Many of the 50 joint NTU/USPIRG proposals to cut $800 billion over 10 years are included among the 620 recommendations to save $3.9 trillion over five years in CAGW’s 2019 Prime Cuts. Congress needs to start acting quickly to adopt these proposals.”
Similarly, Taxpayers Protection Alliance President David Williams told The Epoch Times on April 27 that “this joint project between NTU and U.S. PIRG is exactly what the country needs right now, a serious and bipartisan list of spending cut recommendations.”
Williams added that, “in a fiercely partisan atmosphere, it is refreshing to see this cooperation. I hope lawmakers on both sides of the aisle take these recommendations seriously and act quickly to enact the spending cuts.”
Less optimistic was Truth in Accounting President Sheila Weinberg.
“The desire for spending cuts must come from the voters, who seem to favor politicians who promise tax cuts and/or more government services and benefits. Public fiscal responsibility has gone to the wayside in favor of spending beyond what people are willing to spend in taxes.
“Before the current crisis, very few people were even phased by projections of $1 trillion deficits. Now, projections are higher than $3 trillion. I don’t know when this level of borrowing will end, but I believe it won’t end well,” she said.
USPIRGF’s R.J. Cross, the report’s co-author, told The Epoch Times, “we may have different reasons for wanting to see these cuts, but we arrive at the same place, and that’s what matters.”
Contact Mark Tapscott at Mark.Tapscott@epochtimes.nyc.