Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, has decided to co-sponsor a bill with Senate Republicans that would cap federal spending at a declining percentage of GDP over ten years. Spending as a percentage of GDP would eventually be reduced to 20.6 percent, which is equal to the average from 1970 to 2008. To put this perspective, federal spending as a share of the economy will be close to 25 percent this year, and is projected to be even higher ten years from now.
That’s what the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s recently retired inspector general had to say in response to rampant malfeasance and mismanagement at public housing authorities uncovered by a joint investigation by ABC News and The Center for Public Integrity.
Freshman Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has raised the bar in Washington by releasing a bill that would make substantial, specific, and immediate cuts in federal spending. While policymakers on both sides of the aisle have largely paid lip service to stopping Washington’s record run of fiscal profligacy, Paul’s proposal makes good on his campaign promise to seriously tackle the federal government’s bloated budget.
The U.S. Postal Service, which lost $8.5 billion last year, wants to close about 2,000 retail postal outlets that are operating in the red. The USPS wanted to close 3,200 outlets in 2009, but the number was chopped to 162 following a congressional outcry. The USPS has over 36,000 postal outlets.
When it comes to reining in federal spending, House Republicans and the president have one idea in common: freezing nondefense discretionary spending. That category accounts for about 18 percent of total spending, so let’s see how such a freeze would affect the overall budget.
The Washington Post reports: “Obama has decided not to endorse his deficit commission’s recommendation to raise the retirement age, and otherwise reduce Social Security benefits, in Tuesday’s State of the Union address.”
Last week the conservative House Republican Study Committee released its Spending Reduction Act of 2011, which would cut federal spending by $2.5 trillion over the next ten years. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) will introduce it in the Senate.
The Constitution authorizes a government of limited powers. Congress’s main legislative powers are enumerated in Article I, Section 8—there are only 18. But since the New Deal those powers have been read as authorizing Congress to do far more than was ever imagined for our first 150 years under the Constitution. This has led to effectively unlimited government.
How much money do federal taxpayers lose to food stamp fraud each year? Nobody really knows. The government claims that trafficking in food stamps decreased to a steady 1 percent of expenditures in the past decade. But with record numbers of Americans utilizing a program that has exploded in cost, it’s hard to take that claim seriously.