Opinion

Cutting government is not scary

Ryan Girdusky Political Consultant

It’s been seven months, and the president’s warnings that sequestration will “hurt our economy,” “increase unemployment,” and “add hundreds of thousands of Americans to the unemployment rolls” never came to fruition. Americans had more reason to be nervous about the series finale of Breaking Bad than they did sequestration. President Obama canceling White House tours proved to be the worst damage the general public suffered. The American public has come to learn that cutting government isn’t scary, and we should do it more often.

Polls seem to show they’re starting to get the message: In March, a CBS poll found that 53 percent of Americans thought the sequester would personally affect them, but just two months later that same polling company found that 69 percent of Americans said they have not been affected by the sequester.

Many government agencies that predicted massive layoffs and furloughs have eliminated waste in other areas. According to the Washington Post, “most major agencies have reduced, or eliminated altogether, original furlough projections.” Those agencies “discovered cost-cutting measures had made their situation less dire than originally anticipated.”

There’s a substantial amount of waste and unnecessary spending in a $3.54 trillion budget, and often the only way to find it is to cut the overhead.

And even though the mainstream media promoted sob stories about how the general public would be hurt by the IRS now employing 10,000 fewer people than it did two years ago, Americans haven’t begun to riot.

In fact, long-term trends show that Americans are growing fonder of cutting spending. According to the Pew Research Center, support for cutting spending has increased exponentially over the last quarter of a century.

Since 1987, support for decreasing funding has increased in nearly every sphere of the government: healthcare, by 700 percent; environmental protection, by 500 percent; Social Security, by 300 percent; scientific research by more than 100 percent; and education, by 100 percent. Despite Democratic fearmongering, the American public has grown more austere since Ronald Reagan was president.

So in response to the sequester’s amazing success of reducing government spending by $85 billion, Senate Democrats have proposed increasing next year’s spending by $90 billion. Nancy Pelosi concurs that there’s nothing else that can be cut.

Americans understand budgets; they use them every day in their personal lives, and they know it’s likely there are more places to cut – especially in a budget the size of the federal government’s.

Congress is set to raise the debt ceiling this month, and the House is set to keep the sequester cuts in place. They should, however, look to cut more.

For starters, the $18 billion in waste reported last year by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK): For years now, Senator Coburn has put together a booklet outlining how government wastes money, but so far Congress hasn’t been proactive in fighting against this spending.

If they wanted to go further, they can start eliminating federal programs that duplicate other federal programs. Senator Coburn again has been leading that charge for years. According to him, those duplicate programs cost an astonishing $395 billion annually.  This would be a tremendous savings with very little actual effect on the public, because all the affected programs already exist in other departments.

And if Republicans want to be really ambitious, they will pursue the goals laid out by Senator Rand Paul in his 2014 budget, which puts the country on a five-year path to a balanced budget. Paul’s budget includes abolishing the departments of Education, Energy, HUD, Development and Commerce, as well as implementing tax and entitlement reform.

While that isn’t practical with this current Senate and White House, Republicans have made tremendous gains by holding firm to principles. They’ve allowed the public to see that cutting government isn’t a doomsday scenario for the nation; it’s the responsible course of action.