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I can balance the budget

I Can Balance the Budget

By John Stossel

The Congressional Budget Office says the current year's budget deficit will be a record $1.5 trillion. It also says that over the next decade we're on track for annual deficits of "only" $768 billion. I suspect the CBO has hired Rosy Scenario to do the bookkeeping, but let's take that number at face value.

I'm now going to balance the budget, with the help of some experts.

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I'll begin with things I'm most eager to cut. Let's privatize air traffic control. Canada did it, and it works better. Then privatize Amtrak. Get rid of all subsidies for rail. That'll save $12 billion.

End subsidies for public broadcasting, like NPR. Cancel the Small Business Administration. Repeal the Davis-Bacon rules under which the government pays union-set wages to workers on federal construction projects. Cut foreign aid by half (although we should probably get rid of all of it). So far, that's $20 billion.

Oops. That doesn't dent the deficit. We have to do much more.

So eliminate the U.S. Education Department. We'd save $94 billion. Federal involvement doesn't improve education. It gets in the way.

Agriculture subsidies cost us $30 billion a year. Let's get rid of them. They distort the economy. We should also eliminate Housing and Urban Development. That's $53 billion more.

Who needs the Energy Department and its $20 billion sinkhole? The free market should determine energy investments.

And let's end the war on drugs. In effect, it's a $47 billion subsidy for thugs in the black market.

I've already cut more than six times more than President Obama proposed in his State of the Union address. His freeze of nondefense discretionary spending would save only $40 billion.

But my cuts still total only $246 billion. If we're going to get rid of the rest of the CBO's projected deficit, we must attack the "untouchable" parts of the budget, starting with Social Security. Raising the retirement age and indexing benefits to inflation would save $93 billion. I'd save more by privatizing Social Security, but our progressive friends won't like that, so for now I'll ignore privatization.

The biggest budget busters are Medicare and Medicaid, and get this: the 400 subsidy programs run by HHS. Assuming I take just two-thirds of the Cato Institute's suggested cuts, that saves $281 billion.

How about the Defense Department's $721 billion? Much of that money could be saved if the administration just shrank the military's mission to its most important role: protecting us and our borders from those who wish us harm. Today, we have more than 50,000 soldiers in Germany, 30,000 in Japan and 9,000 in Britain. Those countries should pay for their own defense. Cato's military cuts add up to $150 billion.

I've now cut enough to put us $2 billion in surplus!

Can we go further?

"Repeal Obamacare," syndicated columnist Deroy Murdock said.

Reason magazine editor Matt Welch wants to cut the Department of Homeland Security, "something that we did without 10 years ago."

But don't we need Homeland Security to keep us safe?

"We already have law enforcement in this country that pays attention to these things. This is a heavily bureaucratized organization.

"Cut the Commerce Department," Mary O'Grady of The Wall Street Journal said. "If you take out the census work that it does, you would save $8 billion. And the rest of what it does is really just collect money for the president from business."

As the bureaucrats complain about proposals to make tiny cuts, it's good to remember that disciplined government could make cuts that get us to a surplus in one year. But even a timid Congress could make swift progress if it wanted to. If it just froze spending at today's levels, it would almost balance the budget by 2017. If spending were limited to 1 percent growth each year, the budget would balanced in 2019. And if the crowd in Washington would limit spending growth to about 2 percent a year, the red ink would almost disappear in 10 years.

As you see, the budget can be cut. Only politics stand in the way.

Copyright 2011, Creators Syndicate Inc.

Answer Question
 
Anonymous

Asked by Anonymous at 6:37 PM on Apr. 25, 2011 in Politics & Current Events

Answers (20)
  • I agree with basically all of it.
    Carpy

    Answer by Carpy at 6:42 PM on Apr. 25, 2011

  • Wow... If only
    amazinggrace83

    Answer by amazinggrace83 at 6:44 PM on Apr. 25, 2011

  • I think a good portion of the Tea Partiers and True Conservatives had this figured out long before Stossel came along with pen in hand.
    jewjewbee

    Answer by jewjewbee at 6:44 PM on Apr. 25, 2011

  • Hmmm...so the KEY to balancing the budget is PRIVATIZING that which the GOVERNMENT has their grubby little fingers all over?! Who knew?! LOL :o)
    LoriKeet

    Answer by LoriKeet at 7:15 PM on Apr. 25, 2011

  • It doesn't matter how many times some of us say this, or how well it would work, those on the left (and those who want the US to fail) will not only find every thing wrong with it, but will ignore the facts and claim we're doing fine. Some will go so far as to tell us the economy is picking up! Idiots.
    Farmlady09

    Answer by Farmlady09 at 7:18 PM on Apr. 25, 2011

  • Awfully QUIET in here, huh?! :o)
    LoriKeet

    Answer by LoriKeet at 7:26 PM on Apr. 25, 2011

  • I just love Stossel and his common sense! I loved it when he was on 20/20 and did consumer reports. Wow, I think I just outed myself as being old :X
    DSamuels

    Answer by DSamuels at 7:36 PM on Apr. 25, 2011

  • Sadly, whenever a cut has been proposed, the group targeted pitches a fit...getting a little too close to election time to P*ss off the constituents. Haven't heard a group yet who has stepped up to take the hit- Any takers?


     PS- If we eliminated lobbyists, we could solve many of our probs-

    Sisteract

    Answer by Sisteract at 8:19 PM on Apr. 25, 2011

  • Why don't we just cut it all and disband the United States. Privatize everything and Put all power back to the states...oh, I mean the 50 new countries created when we cut all of the spending. I like living in the united states and would rather not live in the great country of Wisconsin.
    Kitkat61277

    Answer by Kitkat61277 at 10:54 PM on Apr. 25, 2011

  • A good fomula for a Disunited States of America
    janet116

    Answer by janet116 at 11:54 PM on Apr. 25, 2011

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