I know, it will never happen with Mr. Big Government in the White House, and Democrats controlling Congress. But let's pretend that one day we'll have a government actually interested in cutting spending. What areas would be prime targets for cuts? I noticed a column/video in USA Today taking up that proposition. Interestingly enough, it features two people from opposite sides of the political spectrum, Bob Beckel and Cal Thomas, finding some common ground on things that should be cut. Here are their proposals with my comments on each.
1. Department of Education. This would be a prime target for me. Slash the federal education budget to the bone. We get very little return on the massive amounts of money dumped down this particular hole. Education should be primarily a state and local matter, with the federal government doing little more than setting some national standards.
2. Department of Agriculture. Another fat, bloated waste of money. Here's Beckel's comment.
Absolutely. Between 1996 and 2002, federal subsides to farmers have grown to $121 billion. In recent years, 72% of those subsidies went to huge corporate agribusinesses and the largest privately owned farms. So you have a symbiotic relationship between government and big farmers, but the American people are left holding the bill.Those subsidies should be eliminated entirely.
3. Faith-based initiatives. Extremely dubious from a church/state separation perspective, and totally unnecessary. One of Bush's really bad ideas. I agree with Thomas and Beckel. Scrap the whole thing.
4. Future Bailouts. Saying no future bailouts isn't exactly a cut, although it's still a good idea. Beckel wants an exception for an "absolute national emergency," and defends the auto industry bailouts. The problem with that sort of exception is that bailouts are always justified by claiming an emergency, and by dire predictions of doom. Let the market work.
5. Defense Department. This is normally the only area of government that liberals want to cut, while expanding all the rest. But national defense is one of the few clearly necessary and justifiable roles of government, and therefore more worthy of funding than many other things. Having said that, there is all sorts of waste and overspending on defense that could be cut. Defense is a pork-project repository within a government addicted to pork projects.
6. Entitlement Spending. I was glad to see Beckel call for major reform of social security, including means testing and raising the payout age to 70 -- both excellent ideas in my opinion. We should also privatize the system as much as possible.
I rarely read USA Today and I was not aware of Beckel and Thomas' Common Ground feature. It looks like it might be worth checking out in the future.