Opinion

SCHATZ: Here Are A Few Ways Trump And Congress Could Stop Increasing The National Debt

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Thomas Schatz Citizens Against Government Waste

The United States is heading toward a financial reckoning. Without taking steps to reduce spending, deficits will reach an average of $1.2 trillion between fiscal years (FY) 2020 and 2029, according to a report from the Congressional Budget Office.

CBO Director Phillip Swagel wrote, “The nation’s fiscal outlook is challenging. Federal debt, which is already high by historical standards, is on an unsustainable course, projected to rise even higher after 2029 because of the aging of the population, growth in per capita spending on health care, and rising interest costs.”

The two-year budget deal signed by President Trump on Aug. 2 will substantially contribute to the deficit spending. It increases military and non-military spending by $320 billion above the budget caps imposed by the Budget Control Act of 2011 and will pile an estimated $1.7 trillion on the national debt over the next 10 years.

To help prevent this fiscal disaster, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) has released “Prime Cuts 2019,” which has been published annually since 1993. The newest version contains 620 recommendations that would save taxpayers $433.8 billion in the first year and $3.9 trillion over five years.

We address every area of government spending. We propose eliminating the Market Access Program (MAP), which aims to help agricultural producers promote U.S. products overseas. The problem is that MAP is a corporate welfare program that funnels millions of dollars to large, profitable corporations and trade associations that can afford to pay for their own ads. Eliminating MAP would save taxpayers $870 million over five years.

Numerous cuts can be made at the Pentagon without jeopardizing national security, including eliminating congressional add-ons for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, saving $8.9 billion over five years. The F-35 is $195 billion over budget, eight years behind schedule, and on pace to become the most expensive weapon system in history, with an estimated lifetime cost of $1.2 trillion for operation and maintenance. Eliminating earmarks for the Defense Health Program would save $7.4 billion over five years.

Selling excess federal property and reforming leasing practices would save $15 billion over five years. If the power-generating assets of the Southeastern Power Administration and Tennessee Valley Authority were sold, taxpayers would save $4.9 billion over five years. Eliminating unneeded property and resources is a routine practice in the private sector, but it does not occur often enough in the federal government.

The recommendations also include long-standing proposals to eliminate the sugar, dairy, and peanut programs; reduce Medicare improper payments by 50 percent; terminate duplicative regional commissions; and, increase the use of software asset management tools. The report also proposes changes to entitlement programs, including raising the retirement age for Social Security and Medicare.

Members of Congress have the blueprint to cut wasteful government spending. They need to muster the will to take action to prevent trillion-dollar deficits and mounting debt.

Tom Schatz (@TomSchatzCAGWis the president of Citizens Against Government Waste, a nonprofit group working to cut waste in government.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.