A Guide to the Presidential Candidates’ Proposals to Cut Spending

Over at Downsizing the Federal Government, Chris Edwards and I have regularly complained that most policymakers have been insufficiently specific when it comes to identifying spending cuts. With the Republican primaries about to get underway, it’s a good time to see what the current crop of presidential aspirants has to offer.

There are multiple ways to skin this cat, but I decided to put together a comparison table based solely on the content found on each candidate’s campaign website. I did not consider past statements or votes, the televised debates, or outside sources (unless linked to by a campaign’s website). The idea is that statements on each candidate’s website should offer the clearest indication of their intentions should they become president.

Ron Paul is the only candidate who actually produced a proposed federal budget. Therefore, I started with his template and added additional agencies/programs cited on the websites of the other candidates. Again, the idea is to show specifically what the candidates are proposing to cut. Thus, proposed spending reforms such as a Balanced Budget Amendment or a spending cap are not included.

There is a degree of subjectivity in putting this together, but I tried to be fair and consistent. It is for informational purposes only (i.e., it should not be construed as an endorsement of any candidate(s)). Finally, it is possible that proposals were missed, but that could be a reflection of a website’s accessibility to pertinent information.

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The 2011 Wastebook

The office of Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) has released the 2011 edition of its annual “Wastebook.” The document spotlights 100 particularly ridiculous expenditures of taxpayer money from the past year. From an entertainment standpoint, it’s pure gold. But it’s also infuriating, depressing, and a painful reminder of what happens when politicians and bureaucrats spend other…

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Jack Link’s Presents: Messin’ With Taxpayers

If you’re a taxpayer and you like beef jerky, I have good and bad news. The good news is that Jack Link’s is expanding the production facilities at its corporate home in Minong, Wisconsin. The bad news is the expansion is being “made possible” with a $365,000 federal grant to Minong for infrastructure upgrades.

The money comes from the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant program. Curiously, the state’s Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation doesn’t mention in thepress release that the money is coming from federal taxpayers:

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Obama and Mitch Daniels Team Up to ‘Shovel’ Subsidies

The Indianapolis Star recently profiled local boy makes good (handing out other people’s money) John Fernandez, the ex-Bloomington mayor and Obama fundraiser who now heads up the Economic Development Administration. A reference to an EDA taxpayer handout to a technology park in southern Indiana caught my eye:

Southwestern Indiana got a $6.7 million boost from the EDA last year to create a multi-county technology park to tap into the research related to the Crane Division, Naval Surface Warfare Center in Martin County. At the July groundbreaking for the park, Gov. Mitch Daniels called it a ‘long-awaited development that will serve as an economic catalyst for the region.’

Why would Republican governor Mitch “Red Menace” Daniels want to help the Obama administration score public relations points with Hoosiers? One reason is Daniels’s favorite corporate welfare apparatus, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, also handed out money from state taxpayers for the technology park.

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USPS Sends a Message to Congress

Last Monday, the U.S. Postal Service filed its proposal to reduce service standards with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC). The USPS is seeking to cut costs by closing about half of its mail processing facilities, which would mean slower mail delivery. Given that the USPS is running on financial fumes and Congress is still trying to figure out how to kick the can down the road, management apparently decided that it had to act.

Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), the chairman of the Senate subcommittee that oversees the USPS, acknowledges this in his statement on the proposal:

Although we’ve made some progress in moving postal reform bills forward in the House and Senate, we still have a lot of work that needs to be done in order to find a comprehensive solution to the Postal Service’s serious financial problems. In the absence of assistance from Congress and the Administration, the Postal Service has been forced to take matters into their own hands and try to modernize their business model with the limited tools and resources available to them. This situation is less than ideal. The few measures that the Postal Service can adopt on its own—such as closing distribution centers and slowing down first-class mail delivery times—to extend its survival and avoid insolvency will also potentially further erode its declining business.

Carper concluded his statement by making a pitch for bipartisan postal reform legislation that I recently panned.

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Congress’ Budget in Perspective

A new poll conducted for The Hill found that 67 percent of likely voters think members of Congress should take a pay cut. With the economy still struggling and the government’s debt continuing to mount, congressional pay is — understandably — a sore subject with voters. However, I get the impression that a lot of people think that cutting Congress’s budget would have a sizable impact on the government’s financial situation.

It wouldn’t.

The following chart shows fiscal 2011 spending for the House and Senate, the entire legislative branch, and the entire government:

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