As the House caves to the Senate on the Continuing Resolution and the debt ceiling, the argument by the Beltway establishment crowd is simple: They want to avoid a default on America’s debt.
Ignoring the falsehood that America would default if we hit the debt ceiling – we won’t – America’s alleged leaders could take the responsible route and cut spending to avoid the ceiling.
In 2011, the big spenders argued that balancing the budget was too difficult, with deficits of $1.3 trillion and $1.1 trillion in 2012. These totaled approximately 40% and 30% of the federal budget, respectively.
So how much would need to be cut from the federal budget in 2014 to avoid hitting the debt ceiling for the entire fiscal year? According to Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) projections in May 2013, $560 billion – about 15.5% of the spending the CBO expects in 2014.
Here are a few (of many) options the government could cut without reducing any services:
Congress could work to reduce the $80 billion in annual Medicare fraud.
At least $108 billion in improper payments were made in 2012 – though that number is likely closer to $160 billion.
The Department of Defense has yet to audit itself – even though it is on the Government Accountability Office’s “High Risk” list of government agencies for vulnerabilities to waste, fraud, abuse, etc. As much as one-quarter of defense spending could be lost to simple inefficiency – but nobody knows, because the Department is not audited.
As much as $700 billion may be simply lying around because of poor oversight of grant programs.
Most importantly, though, Congress could take advice from President Obama on spending reductions, such as Medicare reforms, Post Office reforms, farm subsidy reductions, and others.
Since 2011, fiscal conservatives have been called terrorists, hostage-takers, etc. for their opposition to raising the debt ceiling. History has shown big spenders as the ones who have taken the country hostage, again and again, by threatening government services. In exchange, they demand an increase in the debt ceiling to feed their voracious appetites for more spending, and unconstitutional power.