Thursday, September 22, 2005

Where to Cut: RSC has some innovative suggestions

The Republican Study Committee is very responsibly suggesting some spending cuts to accommodate the likely costs of Katrina and now Rita reconstruction.

But, is cutting $2 billion per year from the CDC really the best place to start?
Their total budget is only about $8 billion

Of course if the eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (hm, do I see a pattern here...), as suggested, then maybe plague fighting could be cut too, not as if there's any imminent threat on the horizon... Nothing like eliminating eminent institutions serving the whole nation to cope with a one-off crisis.

They also propose $2 billion cut per year for NASA ($4 billion in out years), notionally to eliminate the Exploration initiative (that is, like, so totally Last Years Big Idea, you know). Yeah, sure they will. Given the chain of reasoning involved, the funds will be cut, Exploration will remain, and remaining Earth Observation programmes will be cut. Because, you know, if we don't see the hurricanes coming, they won't hurt us.

But I do like charging Federal Employees for Parking. It is about time that the parking nazis expanded their domain of power.
I nominate Karl Rove for Federal Parking Czar.

But, they do boldly propose to reduce Farm Acreage subsidies by 1%, for a savings of $31 MILLION! Per Year.
Hey, if they cut it by 33% it'd save, er, a billion, and that is almost real money.

However, out of $100 or so billion first year savings, 1/3 would come from postponing medicare prescription changes by one year. That'd be part of the "reform" passed so recently with no sources of revenue identified at the time to cover the cost of the programme.

No defence or "off-budget" spending costs. No new taxes. Figures. They do, bravely, target some of the pork they themselves adorned the budget with.

So, lessons learned: well, most of the itemised cuts add up to a negligible amount and are pure political opportunism.

Big savings come from postponing or undoing Medicare "reform", eliminating Transport Bill pork, and "verifying income of Earned Income Tax Credit recipients" (shouldn't they be doing that anyway).

Might I politely suggest, that the Transport Bill reversal could humbly be applied to other arenas, like if you want to cut NASA trim the Congressionally imposed line item porkies, and just leave some policy in place for a whole calendar year while we recover our sanity.

I'm glad to know that there is no slack in the Pentagon's $500 billion or so. And all Iraq funds are fully accounted for?


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