As the debt ceiling fight draws closer, many politicians would have you believe money is tight – that they simply can’t cut spending without devastating millions of Americans.

Reality is quite different. Here are three examples:

First, from the Congressional Budget Office comes a cost projection of $850,000 over five years for a new study on “whether exposure to violent video games and programming has a harmful effect on children’s behavior that can be distinguished from other factors.” $850,000 is the high-end estimate, as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) “is authorized to collect fees sufficient to offset the cost of its regulatory activities each year.”

In other words, Congress would be authorized by a Senate bill to spend money and raise fees for a study that is well outside the purview of Congress’ constitutional authority.

Over at the Government Accountability Office (GAO), farm payments and subsidies were analyzed in an August report to see how much money goes to those who shouldn’t get it. While the total in improper spending is not listed, the lead author on the report – Daniel Garcia-Diaz, Director of the Natural Resources and Environment Team – told Tea Party Patriots “almost $36 million in farm payments and subsidies went to deceased individuals over a multi-year period.” He directed questions about the total to the USDA and other agencies, as they “are responsible for estimating an improper payment rate for their programs.”

The report does note that from 2003 to 2006 the federal government “paid nearly $50 million under farm programs to participants whose incomes may have exceeded the income limit at that time….potentially making them ineligible.”

In short, Average Joe and Jane American are financing non-poor and deceased Americans via the tax code.

Finally, Heritage has a list of programs worth $42 billion that don’t work and should be eliminated. One of the most egregious is the Export-Import Bank, which is mostly dedicated to funding crony capitalism. Another is Head Start, which big spenders have defended as necessary for educating many of America’s youth. Heritage notes it has failed in its goals, and thus should be terminated.

Government spending is loaded with hundreds of examples like the ones above. Finding them has never been the problem, locating politicians willing to tighten their own belts is.

In the average household, tough times require tough decisions on spending. In the federal bureaucracy, tough times simply mean spending will lie on the shoulders of the next generation. Not raising the debt ceiling would be a great way for Congress to change this devastating cultural mindset.