The $28 Billion Challenge

At the State of the Union, President Bush proposed to cut spending by $14 billion for this year's budget by cutting or eliminating 140 programs.  The recent budget fights in the House and Senate give us an indication of just how Republicans go about cutting spending.  Student loans, food stamps, Medicaid and Medicare are all going to be put on the chopping block.  Those at the bottom are going to be expected to pay for the tax cuts handed out to those at the top.

And for what?  The CBO has projected that this year's deficit will reach $337 billion.  Bush wants to cut $14 billion?  Out of a total budget of $2.7 trillion that is a tiny drop in the bucket.  This isn't a real attempt to control spending and reduce the deficit.  It's all smoke and mirrors.

Democrats are faced with two political opportunities.  The first is to stand up and defend the programs that the Republicans will be going after.  However doing so will play into the Republican narrative of Democrats being fiscally irresponsible and unwilling to cut spending.  And so the second challenge is to advocate our own plan to cut spending.  I introduce to you the $28 billion challenge.

Let us come up with a list of programs to cut that total $28 billion in savings, twice the amount proposed by Bush.  It is still a small amount, but it's more than Bush's proposed spending cuts and it indicates a desire on the part of Democrats to also control spending.

Let us remember that Bush has presided over the worst combination of reckless fiscal policy.  We have coupled gigantic tax cuts for the rich with an out of control spending orgy.  This is not just spending on defense, homeland security, and mandatory programs.  Non-defense discretionary spending is also out of control.  And you cannot convince me that all of that money is going to programs that Democrats support.

I am a libertarian Democrat with a blog called Freedom Democrats.  I recently finished a scorecard of the House in 2005 based on various votes on social policy and fiscal policy.  

In the area of fiscal policy both parties performed poorly in controlling spending.  But Democrats on the whole did slightly better than Republicans.  And looking at the votes that Democrats tended to support we see some possibilities for programs to cut.  Opposition to sugar loans and subsidies to the uranium industry were two votes on the scorecard that attracted many Democrats.

Democrats should go after the corporate welfare found in departments like Agriculture, Commerce, and Energy.  We could target wasteful and unnecessary weapons programs in Defense.  Or costly programs in State and Justice that support the war on drugs domestically and internationally.

Can it be done?  I certainly hope so.  Any thoughts?

Tags: Democrats, libertarianism, spending cuts (all tags)

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