The federal budget deficit continues to grow, and lawmakers from across the political spectrum are discussing ways to decrease spending and increase revenues. This week, The Takeaway picks several possible budget changes (inspired by The New York Times budget puzzle) and explores what the implications would be, were we to adopt them.
The government is trying to find a way to balance a $200 billion shortfall in the federal budget, and they're looking at both big and small steps. One of the suggestions from the co-chairs of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform includes cutting the foreign aid budget in half by 2015. That would save around $17 billion — but what would be the ripple effects here at home?
In this economy, people know that every little bit counts when it comes to saving money. It is no different for the federal commission trying to reduce a $200 billion budget shortfall. They could save $14 billion dollars by 2015 if they cut the direct payments farmers receive under the 2008 Farm Bill — and if they eliminate the subsidy promises, in the event that prices for wheat, corn, soy and other commodities fall in the next few years. What effects would farmers and food shoppers see if these subsidies were to go away?
When lawmakers are looking at ways to balance the budget, the gargantuan amount of military and defense spending would seem an obvious choice. The Fiscal Commission has found nearly $100 billion in potential cutbacks within the military apparatus by 2015, which include reducing the size of the Navy, rethinking health care benefits for veterans and pulling troops out of bases in Europe and South Korea.
Another bipartisan group, the Debt Reduction Task Force, has gone even further. They released a report on Wednesday calling for a freeze of all military spending, and reducing the number of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq to 30,000 by the year 2013. If Congress approved all of these proposed defense cuts, what effect would it have on America and its ability to defend itself in the future?
The co-chairs of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility have come up with a list of proposals of possible cuts in order to help offset the looming national deficit. Balancing the budget by 2015 will require finding ways to save $200 billion. So far, no decisions have been made on what programs should be cut, and lawmakers have to agree on where to begin.
So, we're doing the job for them - at least hypothetically. All this week, we're picking one program a day to cut and looking at what the ripple effect would be of doing so.