About Downsizing the Federal Government

The federal government is running huge budget deficits, spending too much, and heading toward a financial crisis. Without a change of direction in Washington, average working families will be faced with large tax increases and a lower standard of living.

This website is designed to help policymakers and the public understand where federal spending goes and how to reform each government department. It describes the failings of agencies and identifies specific programs to cut. And it discusses the systematic reasons why government programs are often obsolete, mismanaged, or otherwise dysfunctional.

Some people have lofty visions about how government spending can help society. But this website puts aside the “bedtime stories” about how programs are supposed to work, and instead focuses on how they actually work in the real world. Economist Milton Friedman said that “one of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.”

Downsizing the Federal Government is a project of the Cato Institute. Scholars at Cato believe that cutting the federal budget would enhance personal freedom, increase prosperity, and leave a positive fiscal legacy to the next generation.

For information on the data sources for the charts on this site, see here.

Please contact Chris Edwards with any questions or comments, cedwards [at] cato [dot] org.

Chris Edwards


The creation of this website was made possible by the generosity of the Opportunity Foundation, the Searle Freedom Trust, and the Woodford Family Foundation.