The November 2014 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. Hanging over Capitol Hill during this shift in power is the nation’s record $18.2 trillion national debt, which is a constant reminder of profligate spending in Washington.
As Congress considers the fiscal year (FY) 2016 budget, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) is releasing Prime Cuts 2015. CAGW has been publishing the document since 1993. This year’s version contains 601 recommendations that would save taxpayers $639 billion in the first year and $2.6 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 2015 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 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, due to the tank’s many suppliers spread across numerous congressional districts, legislators have continually added earmarks for the program, including one worth $120 million in FY 2015.
While some in Congress consider DOD spending to be sacrosanct, U.S. military brass is on board with the more effective use of resources 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 2015, wasteful government spending can be cut and the nation can start on a path toward fiscal sanity. Prime Cuts 2015 is essential reading for taxpayers, the media, and legislators.