The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Nancy’s Cupboard May be Bare but There are Certainly Bats in Her Belfry

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


On Sunday, when asked about deficit reduction, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) declared on CNN’s Sunday show State of the Union that “the cupboard is bare…there’s no more cuts to make.”

This shocking quote reminded me of Tom Delay (R-TX), former House Majority Leader, who said in 2005 that there is “no fat” left to cut in the federal budget and agreed with the assessment that the government was running at peak efficiency because the GOP majority had, “pared it down pretty good.”

In 2005, according to the Office of Management and Budget, spending was at $2.5 trillion and the deficit was at $318 billion.  One of the main reasons the public was upset with the GOP in the 2006 election, particularly its base, was its overspending.  Little did the public know what it was in for when it came to government profligacy.  The GOP lost their majority status to Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats.

The CBO noted in its annual report, “Long-Term Budget Outlook,” that ”between 2009 and 2012, the federal government recorded the largest budget deficits relative to the size of the economy since 1946, causing federal debt to soar.  Federal debt held by the public is now about 73 percent of the economy’s annual output, or gross domestic product (GDP).  That percentage is higher than at any point in U.S. history except a brief period around World War II, and it is twice the percentage at the end of 2007.”

Today government spending is at $3.8 trillion and we have a $901 billion deficit but there is little doubt that if Nancy Pelosi became Speaker of the House again, Congress would go on another huge spending spree along with President Obama.  Ms. Pelosi went on to say during her interview, “We all want to reduce the deficit…put everything on the table, review it, but you cannot have any more cuts just for the sake of cuts.  Right now you’re taking trophies.”

Trophies?  There is no way Congress can find even a little waste, fraud, and abuse in the government that could be cut out of a $3.8 trillion budget?

Of course, most people outside of the Washington, D.C. bubble know this isn’t true.  Below are some sources that offer suggestions on budget cuts.  Nancy Pelosi, President Obama, and others who believe that the government can’t find any more spending cuts should take a look at them.

For years, Citizens Against Government Waste has also compiled ideas on possible budget cuts in their annual publication “Prime Cuts,” with the summary found here.  This year’s version contains 557 recommendations that would save taxpayers $580.6 billion in the first year and $1.8 trillion over five years.

Here are some ideas from “Prime Cuts”:

Eliminate the Sugar Subsidy:
1-Year Savings = $1.2 billion; 5-Year Savings = $6 billion

Eliminate the Dairy Subsidy:
1-Year Savings: $1.1 billion; 5-Year Savings: $5.7 billion

Eliminate Unrequested Funding for Retrofit of M1 Abrams Tank to the M12A SEP Variant
1-Year Savings: $136 million ; 5-Year Savings: $3 billion

Sell the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Electric Power Assets and Privatize its Non-Power Functions
1-Year Savings: $-5 million; 5-Year Savings: $1.1 billion

Raise the Retirement Age for Social Security Beneficiaries
1-Year Savings: $100 million; 5-Year Savings: $12.2 billion

We are now in the middle of the Continuing Resolution (CR) battle to fund the government for the next fiscal year, which starts October 1, 2013.   Part of that battle may include doing “something” that will affect Obamacare.  What that ultimately will be is unknown.

Next up – the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will attempt to strip the provision in the CR that was passed in the House that would defund Obamacare.  If successful, the bill goes back to the House where current talk is there will be an attempt to add a provision that would delay the individual mandate in Obamacare for a year.  And the ping-pong game continues.

But what is very important is that the current spending caps remain in place.  The sequester cuts have been successful in reducing the deficit and more should be done, if possible.  Tom Schatz, president of CAGW, wrote about keeping current spending cuts in an op-ed published in Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper, entitled, “The Sequester Is Better Than Sliced Bread.”

Once we get beyond the CR fight, Congress and the President will face the need to raise the debt ceiling, which I wrote about here.  Back in 2006, Senator Obama argued at the time raising the debt ceiling without addressing the debt would be a sign of leadership failure.  CAGW agrees and hope President Obama will negotiate with Congress to find more ways to reduce spending in exchange for raising the debt ceiling.

After all, if the president is willing to negotiate with President Vladimir Putin of Russia and President Hassan Rouhani of Iran, certainly he can negotiate with Congress.

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