The Pew Research Center released new polling data tracking the public's perceptions of the Democratic and Republican parties, and President Trump. It suggests common differences within both parties on their views toward federal spending and the role of government. According to Pew’s findings:
As Congress continues to debate the budget and government spending, majorities are critical of the way that both parties handle these issues. Nearly two-thirds (64%) say the Republican Party is “too willing to cut government programs even when they work.” About as many (61%) say the Democratic Party “too often sees government as the only way to solve problems.”
Although Republicans and Democrats generally hold different viewpoints on taxes and spending, there are programs within the federal budget that can be cut with bipartisan support.
As an example of what could be achieved, National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF) and U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) worked to find common ground on budget reform. Despite the different philosophies of our two organizations regarding taxes and budget spending, both came together to identify wasteful, duplicative, and cronyistic federal programs that are counterproductive to the interest of taxpayers. In our joint report entitled Toward Common Ground 2017, we provide over 50 detailed cuts to federal spending on which both sides of the political spectrum can agree.
If all of the suggested cuts were enacted, taxpayers would see savings of over $263 billion over the next decade and these savings would also help eliminate the perverse impact that some of these federal programs have on the market. The recommended cuts range from large to small, but all would ultimately create a government that better serves taxpayers and operates within its proper limitations:
$14.7 billion saved by suspending building Ford Class Aircraft Carriers. According to the Project for Government Oversight, the Navy is able to maintain its standard aircraft carrier strength well into the 2030s without the purchase of the third Ford Class Aircraft Carriers. This proposal will allow the Navy to better assess its need for, and the effectiveness of, aircraft carriers in protecting the United States’ interests in the coming decades.
$10.94 billion saved by eliminating grants to large and medium-sized airports. These could raise funding from private sources. This option would focus federal spending on airports that have the fewest alternative sources of funding.
$10 million saved by suspending the publishing and unsolicited distribution of the Federal Register to federal employees. Currently, 1,000 copies of the Federal Register are distributed daily for free to Congress and some federal employees. The average edition has 300 pages and costs $4.50 to produce and distribute.
$140 million saved by eliminating the duplicative U.S. Department of Agriculture Catfish Inspection Program. This catfish inspection program is duplicating work already being conducted by the Food and Drug Administration, and by the National Marine Fisheries Service. Eliminating it would allow for a more efficient allocation of resources elsewhere.
While the Pew Research Center showed that Republicans and Democrats may be at odds on many issues, there is still a possibility to find common ground on wasteful spending. The suggestions made in the Toward Common Ground report can serve as a starting point to bridge the divide between those that believe Republicans look to cut programs too often, and those that believe Democrats look to use programs too often. Getting the United States back on the fiscally sound path begins with addressing the low hanging fruit in the federal budget that can be eliminated without too many political disputes.