1. Rein In The Military Budget: Neither the president’s budget or the House CR cuts the overall level of defense spending. In fact, Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s request for the Pentagon budget is a whopping $553 billion — “the largest request ever” by the Pentagon and the largest adjusted for inflation since World War II. CAP Senior Fellow Lawrence Korb has laid out $1 trillion in defense reductions that can be made over the next 10 years by phasing out outdated programs and resizing our military. This comes out to roughly $100 billion a year, which is approximately how much funding is being proposed to be cut from the Pell Grant program.
2. Reduce Or Eliminate Subsidies To Big Agribusiness: The federal government “paid out a quarter of a trillion dollars in federal farm subsidies between 1995 and 2009.” “Just ten percent of America’s largest and richest farms collect almost three-fourths” of these subsidies. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) has proposed — as a part of her progressive deficit reduction plan — a fifty percent cut in federal direct support for agriculture, which would save $7.5 billion in 2015.
3. Reduce Or Eliminate Wasteful Tax Expenditures: The CAP paper “Cracking the Code: A Closer Look at Tax Expenditure Spending” notes that “special credits, deductions, exclusions, exemptions, and preferential tax rates provide more than $1 trillion in subsidies intended to support public objectives,” yet are ineffective and should be reduced or eliminated. Eliminating this tax expenditure could save $100 billion, for example.
4. Enact A Financial Transactions Tax: A “0.25 percent tax on trades of stocks, bonds, derivatives, and other Wall Street financial instruments” would do little to nothing to reduce commerce or productivity but would generate “between $50 billion and $150 billion annually,” according to a CAP analysis.
5. Empower Medicare To Negotiate For Lower Drug Prices: One of the main drivers of the growing U.S. budget deficit is health care costs. While there are a number of things that can be done to streamline the efficiency of our health care system, like introducing a public option or even moving towards a Medicare-for-all system, one policy option that would be very simple to enact and would not require any sort of increased spending or expansion of government would be to simply allow Medicare to use its bulk purchasing power to negotiate with drugmakers for lower prices. Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) estimates that doing this could save as much as $156 billion over 10 years. MORE...