Anyone with a personal budget to balance knows how tricky it can be, and how easy to spend more than they’re taking in. Mortgage payments, electric bills, food and all the other essential expenses really add up, and on a limited income, this may not leave a lot for anything unnecessary. The government is no exception to this rule. The majority of what the government collects goes to defense, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other support programs. Depending on one’s perspective and political affiliation, some of these may not be considered necessary expenditures; however, millions of dollars are spent each year on various items and programs that may come as a surprise.
Republican Congressman Eric Cantor launched the You Cut program to allow the public the opportunity not only to see what the government is spending their money on but also a chance to vote on what spending cuts they would like to see enacted. Here’s a short list of the winning cuts from previous weeks:
Prohibit “First Class” Subsidies on Amtrak: Amtrak loses more than twice as much per passenger for their “sleeper” class service as compared to coach class, and they receive federal tax money to make up for this. The cut would Amtrak to provide the service at cost and possibly save a billion dollars over ten years.
Reduce Government Employment to 2008 Levels: About 188,000 new employees have been hired by the federal government since 2008. This proposal suggests hiring only one person to replace every two who leave, saving $35 billion over ten years.
Prohibit Stimulus Funding for Promotional Signage and Recoup Previously Spent Funds: Highway signs have been put up across the United States letting citizens know about various projects that are funded by the stimulus. The signs themselves are thought to cost millions of dollars. The cut would prohibit any further spending and collect what has already been spent by reducing administrative expenses for the agencies equal to what they spent on the signs.
Sell Excess Federal Property: It was reported in 2007 that the federal government holds about $18 million in the unused federal property. Federal law typically requires that the property be offered to government agencies and state and local governments. With this cut, federal law would be changed to allow the property to be sold instead, with 80% of proceeds going towards the federal deficit.
In addition to allowing people to vote on that week’s choices, they are also encouraged to submit their own ideas for cuts. At the very least, it’s an eye-opening experience to see what else taxes pay for, and what a difference it could make to pay a little more attention to what could be saved and not just what needs to be spent.