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How Do We Cut Federal Growth and Spending?

Most Americans agree that the federal government is totally out of control, that it is too large, spends too much money, and should be reduced in size.  In fact, a recent headline for a Rasmussen Poll reported that “73% Think Federal Government Should Cut Spending to Help Economy.”

There are too many government agencies, too many regulations, too many federal employees, and too much waste. As new regulations are created, new employees are hired to enforce the regulations—then those employees expand their area with more regulations, which requires the hiring of even more federal employees—and the government grows and grows.  If we had perpetual motion it would be a government agency.  As Heritage Foundation budget expert, Romina Boccia stated, “you have so much waste in the federal government, it is really outrageous and we need to be cutting the federal budget, not increasing it.”

The Investor’s Business Daily reported:

 “A new study of government data says that since Oct. 1, federal workers, including bureaucrats and members of Congress, have worked less than three-fourths of the time… Compared to civilian workers, federal employees are underworked.  Rather than criticize them for working so little, maybe we should see this as an opportunity. If they can cut back on work with so little impact on the rest of us, why don’t we simply cut government employment by 25%?  If the country can survive the government working 25% fewer hours, doesn’t it make sense to cut an equivalent amount and make those still on board work full-time like the rest of us?”

How do we cut the federal budget?  First, we need to study all government departments/agencies and assure that none of them receive more funding than they received in the last fiscal year. To accomplish this, we must establish a commission similar to the Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC), which has been effectively used throughout the Department of Defense (DOD).

I mention a BRAC-like commission because it could get much more done to trim government than any group within Congress.  Historically, Congressional legislation only adds federal agencies or increases their size.  We need a commission with a mission to review all agencies for current need, consolidation, efficiency, elimination, etc.  Otherwise, we’ll continue to have growing waste in an ever-expanding federal government.

Since BRAC was used successfully in the DOD, which is one of the most important and necessary of the many government agencies, it could be just as useful in other agencies that are less important to our survival as a nation.  Defense is a constitutional requirement, not some questionable freebie program that rewards citizens, and in many cases non-citizens, for not working.  Coming in second in defense of the nation is unacceptable!  And the survival of the nation and our Constitution is, or should be, the most important function of government.

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is a perfect example of the problem.  The USPS defaulted on its debt last year—after seven straight years of deficits. It’s saddled with billions owed in retiree benefits while its customers are sending less and less mail with each passing year. If it is to survive, the USPS realizes that big reforms are needed, and it has recommended some cost-cutting changes.  But in the omnibus spending bill, Congress blocked two money-savers: discontinuing Saturday delivery and closing some rural post offices.  BRAC would not be saddled with such Congressional politics and would have the authority to solve the problem as needed.

Our second step in cutting federal spending should be a Balanced Budget Amendment.  This would allow us to budget only what is needed and exclude unnecessary functions within the current government structure.

The nation wants to see action, not just rhetoric. In baseball, a base hit excites fans when it happens, but if it doesn’t result in a score, it is just another statistic. Likewise, the taxpayers were happy with all the proposals to reduce the federal budget, but the talk did not materialize into a serious reduction in the budget. The job is not done until we see these major reductions.

Congress must get aggressive in controlling government growth and spending by first establishing BRAC for all areas of the three branches of the federal government (except the DOD where it has already been used), and secondly, by passing a Balanced Budget Amendment. As the Rasmussen Poll shows, the taxpayers want government spending cut.

This is critical, and failure of the Congress to act accordingly is a gross neglect of its responsibilities to the taxpayers.