Taxpayer's Tab: Leaving Money on the Table

Savings Options Remain in the 113th Congress
Vol. 5 Issue 43, December 4, 2014

18 Trillion Reasons to Cut Spending Now

$506 billion. Half a trillion dollars. That is the latest figure of the annual budget deficit of the federal government. Despite the fact that tax receipts are at an all time high – exceeding $3 trillion – the government spent $506 billion more than it collected. While that figure is down from previous years, it nevertheless adds to the current federal debt, which is now just under $18 trillion, or $156,013 per household.

The latest tally of the Christmas Price Index, based on the cost of purchasing all of the repeated items in “The Twelve Days of Christmas” carol, stands at $116,273. At that rate, the federal government could celebrate the twelve days of Christmas nearly 155 million times for its federal debt. That includes over 6.2 billion gold rings!

In the past, rising revenues and falling deficits have weakened the resolve of our political leaders to maintain budgetary discipline. This mistake should be avoided this time around. As we’ve noted repeatedly, although the current deficit is down from previous years, the outlook for the future is tinted with red ink as the government will have to find a way to pay for increasingly expensive entitlement programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the costly new benefits included in “Obamacare.”

Representatives and Senators are still in town for the remainder of the so-called “lame duck” session and while they are primarily interested in wrapping up the big items that remain on the agenda to close out the 113th Congress, there are still opportunities to move on several of the savings bills that have been introduced as legislation. As of today, NTU Foundation has tracked a total of 229 savings bills in Congress, including 148 in the House and 81 in the Senate.

A full list is available online (the list also contains savings proposals that were included in bills that would otherwise, on net, increase spending). 

A number of duplicate budget cuts were included in multiple bills, some savings were already enacted into law, and others are now moot (e.g., proposals to replace the FY 2013 sequester). Excluding these, there are still upwards of $900 billion in cuts left on the table in the House and $750 billion in the Senate.

In addition to these bills with estimates, there are several bills before Congress that NTUF has been unable to definitively score, but which would likely result in significant savings. Some of those include:
  • Senator Richard Burr (R-NC)S. 1836, the Department of Commerce and the Workforce Consolidation Act: This legislation, introduced by Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), would merge the Departments of Labor and Commerce as well as the Small Business Administration into one new agency, the Department of Commerce and the Workforce. Consolidating 35 federal offices into 12 would likely result in billions of dollars’ worth of administrative savings.
  • Congressman Ted Yoho (R-FL)H.R. 5759, the Executive Amnesty Prevention Act: Congressman Ted Yoho (R-FL) introduced legislation that would retroactively void the legal authority of President Obama’s executive order delaying deportation of unauthorized aliens. The Congressional Budget Office reported that the bill would “reduce both revenues and outlays for direct spending programs,” but was unable to offer a specific estimate. 
  • Senator Mike Lee (R-UT)Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH)H.R. 4731/S. 2015, the Welfare Reform Act of 2014: Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced legislation that would require additional means testing for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and adjust the amount of aid offered through the program.
We are endeavoring to score as many additional bills as we can before the end of the year. And if not much happens with these cut proposals during the rest of this Congress, a brand new one will reconvene next January … and we’ll have this list ready for them.

National Taxpayers Union Foundation is a nonpartisan research and educational organization dedicated to helping Americans of all ages understand how taxes, government spending, and regulations affect them. Through our timely information, analysis, and commentary, we’re empowering citizens to engage in important policy debates and hold officials accountable.

Our findings are provided for educational purposes only and are not intended to aid or hinder the passage of legislation or as a comment on any Member’s or Candidate's fitness to serve. 
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