Monday, February 14, 2011

I just cut $258 billion from the federal budget...

...and I haven't even touched Defense spending yet.

The first thing I heard on the news this morning when I got up was how gosh-darned hard it would be for Congress and the White House to cut the budget by $100 billion. Given the size of the federal budget, I figured that just had to be a load of crap.

A quick Google search turned up this set of PDFs summarizing the executive branch budget for FY11. Most department and agency budgets break down to discretionary outlays, mandatory outlays and "credit activity", which I take to mean lending programs of various types. When considering an agency or department's total budget, I disregarded the credit activity, so cuts would clearly be even larger if I took those into consideration.

I basically ignored those budgets that were very small (under a billion or so) and looked at these:
  • Agriculture
  • Commmerce
  • Education
  • Energy
  • Health and Human Services
  • Homeland Security
  • Housing and Urban Development
  • Interior
  • Justice
  • Labor
  • State
  • Transportation
  • Treasury
  • Veteran's Affairs
  • Corps of Engineers
  • EPA
  • National Science Foundation
  • NASA
  • Small Business Administration
  • Social Security
When a corporate CEO is serious about cutting spending, he or she will go to the various business units and direct their respective heads to cut, say, 10% of their budget. In other words, do it or be fired and replaced with someone who will. So, let's do the same with the federal budget. Granted, the exercise would be nowhere near as straight forward as cutting a private sector budget. Those "mandatory outlays" are mandatory because they're required by law, so a process would be needed to fast track legislation to amend public law as needed.

The bottom line is that an across-the-board cut of 10% of the budgets listed above yields a savings of over $258 billion. If one includes the $719B Defense budget, an additional savings of $71B is realized. Note that this doesn't even take into account the budgets for the various intelligence agencies.

No, finding $100 billion to cut from the budget isn't that difficult.


Jeff said...

Of course, instead of cutting the 10% out of the administrative/overhead side of the house they would all immediately cry that they need to cut the part that directly affects the recipients of said services. Much like school systems and counties claim that there will be fewer firefighters/teachers/police while the heads of those departments continue to rake in multi-hundred thousand dollar salaries with admin staffs that number in the hundreds or thousands.

Kim B said...

I came across you on twitter and enjoyed your post.

You are correct.

Finding $100 Billion to cut out of the budget is not hard at all

...BUT finding someone-anyone-who is WILLING to cut $100 Billion (even in 10% increments) in this (or almost any administration) is key.

Every body talks the talk, but when the guy with the knife shows up, they ALL wrestle him to the ground.

So, if somewhere over the rainbow cuts are ever attempted-or God forbid-actually made, you have the fools whining and kvetching, "Not in my yard,you don't".

Some mornings I seriously consider just crawling back into bed and pulling the covers over my head...but I am too much of a coward about what I would find when I crawled back out.