The federal government is approaching its legal borrowing limit, and fiscal conservatives in Congress are wondering what spending reforms they can extract in return for supporting a debt-limit increase. Various sorts of balanced budget amendments and debt limits relative to GDP are being kicked around. I support those ideas, but I fear that they may be too complicated to gain traction right now.
Last week I compared “other mandatory” spending in fiscal 2007 to the president’s proposal for fiscal 2012. Several readers requested that I produce a chart showing a similar breakdown for nondefense discretionary spending (or “domestic discretionary”).
Congressional Republicans want to reduce fiscal 2011 funding by $61 billion. The Obama adminstration and Senate Democrats believe these cuts are too large. As a result, a two-week continuing resultion was passed to allow the sides to reach an agreement on funding the government for the rest of the year.
While Congress haggles over Republican ambitions to trim $61 billion in funding for domestic discretionary programs, it’s important to remember that mandatory (or “entitlement”) spending is the main driver of recent and future budget growth.
Mark Bittman had a column on the NYTimes online “Opinionator” blog yesterday on farm subsidies. He included a fairly (but not completely) thorough list of what is wrong with farm subsidies in America, but he ultimately comes down on the side of “fixing” farm subsidies rather than ending them altogether.
House Republicans engineered a continuing resolution for fiscal 2011 that would trim $61 billion in “regular” discretionary budget authority versus fiscal 2010. The Obama administration and the Democratic majority in the Senate balked at the cuts, and a two-week continuing resolution will be passed in order to avoid a “government shutdown” and give the sides more time to reach an agreement.
A Government Accountability Office report on duplicative federal programs is prima facie evidence that the government is a bloated mess. For example, there are 82 federal programs involved in teacher quality, 80 programs involved in economic development, and over 100 programs involved in surface transportation.
The Washington Post reports that several governors are advocating that Medicaid be converted to a block grant program. Block grants would free the states to experiment with cost-effective ways to provide health care to low-income populations by removing burdensome federal rules and regulations. Giving states a fixed lump-sum payment would also allow federal taxpayer costs to be directly controlled.
New data from the Federal Aviation Administration shows that reported air traffic control errors have increased by 81 percent since 2007. Errors that were most likely to result in a collision or accident jumped 26 percent from 2007 to 2010.
Two recent audits conducted by the Internal Revenue Service’s inspector general find that the agency continues to do a poor job of making sure tax credits go to intended beneficiaries.