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.
Almost half of America’s farmland is operated by someone other than the owner. Critics of farm subsidies often point to examples of famous wealthy landowners receiving handouts as a reason to end the federal government’s agriculture gravy train. Notable recipients have included Ted Turner, Larry Flynt, Charles Schwab, and numerous members of Congress.
Gross federal debt just hit $14 trillion and will soon reach the legal limit of $14.3 trillion. House Republicans are wondering what spending reforms they can extract from the Democrats for their support of a debt-limit increase.
A common rationale for federal policies to expand homeownership is the desire to reduce observed racial differences in homeownership. Receiving the most attention has been the gap in homeownership rates between white households and African-American. The current homeownership rate for whites is 76.5 percent (2007), while that for African-Americans is 54 percent, leaving a gap of 22.5 percent.
In a recent post on earmarks and federal grants, I cited the crazy example of HUD’s Community Development Block Grant program funding facade renovations for a wine bar in Connecticut. Now a Michigan newspaper reports that Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo is looking for $220,000 in CDBG money to expand its facilities.