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WebMemo #3149 on Budget and Spending

February 11, 2011

Additional $47 Billion in Spending Cuts for the Continuing Resolution

By and

House Republicans are now pledging to reduce fiscal year 2011 discretionary spending to $100 billion below President Obama’s original request. As reported, this new budget proposal would:

  • Unwisely reduce security spending by $16 billion relative to President Obama’s request; and
  • Reduce non-security spending by $84 billion relative to President Obama’s request and by $69 billion compared to the 2010 level.

Rather than stop at $84 billion, lawmakers could seek a full $100 billion reduction in non-security discretionary spending. Defense should be funded at the level proposed in the FY2011 president’s budget. This would bring that spending down to 2005 levels for the final seven months of the fiscal year (and 2008 levels over the full year) and create a new, lower baseline that could save nearly $2 trillion over the decade.

More to Cut

The House Appropriations Committee has released a partial list of its non-security discretionary spending cuts.[1] Using a recent Heritage Foundation paper[2] specifying larger federal spending cuts as a guide, lawmakers could add the following $47 billion in 2011 reductions (with savings listed over seven months):

  • Eliminate business subsidies for the National Institute of Standards and Technology: $104 million;
  • Reduce National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration budget to 2008 levels: $433 million;
  • Terminate Minority Development Business Agency: $16 million;
  • Eliminate Economic Development Administration: $287 million;
  • Eliminate Community Development Block Grant program: $2.95 billion;
  • Cut House and Senate budget back to 2008 level of $2.2 billion: $174 million;
  • Merge all four agriculture outreach and research agencies and cut budget in half: $870 million;
  • Cut federal employee travel budget to 50 percent of 2000 level: $5.8 billion;
  • Suspend acquisition of federal office space: $580 million;
  • Trim 500,000-vehicle federal fleet by 20 percent: $348 million;
  • Eliminate grants to states for Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities: $173 million;
  • Eliminate dozens of small, duplicative, irrelevant education grants, such as additional grants for native Hawaiians: $870 million;
  • Revise Impact Aid school district aid formula: $29 million;
  • Trim Head Start: $1.16 billion;
  • Scale back Education Department bureaucracy: $1.16 billion;
  • Eliminate Office of English Language Education: $449 million;
  • Eliminate Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Science to Achieve Results Grant Program: $37 million;
  • Block grant and devolve EPA grant programs: $348 million;
  • Eliminate Health Professions Grants: $240 million;
  • Eliminate Maternal and Child Block Grant: $180 million;
  • Eliminate National Health Service Corps: $87 million;
  • Repeal Health Resources and Services Administration Rural Outreach and Development Grants: $57 million;
  • Eliminate East–West Center: $11 million;
  • Eliminate Trade and Development Agency: $32 million;
  • Eliminate International Trade Commission and transfer intellectual property rights oversight to Treasury Department: $39 million;
  • Eliminate Democracy Fund: $106 million;
  • Eliminate State Department’s Education and Cultural Exchange Programs: $363 million;
  • Eliminate USAID’s Sustainable Development Assistance Program: $1.217 billion;
  • Eliminate Senior Community Service Employment Program: $334 million;
  • Eliminate National Science Foundation Spending on Elementary and Secondary Education: $50 million;
  • Reduce National Science Foundation to 2008 levels: $847 million;
  • Eliminate Army Corps’s funding for Beach Replenishment Projects: $35 million;
  • Eliminate funding for National Community Service Programs: $427 million;
  • Eliminate State Justice Institute: $2 million;
  • Eliminate Advisory Council on Historic Preservation: $3 million;
  • Eliminate National Capital Planning Commission: $5 million;
  • Eliminate Commission of Fine Arts: $6 million;
  • Eliminate National Endowment for the Arts: $71 million;
  • Eliminate National Endowment for the Humanities: $75 million;
  • Eliminate Institute of Museum Services and Library Services: $147 million;
  • Require Smithsonian Institution to finance 50 percent of costs through user fees: $254 million;
  • Eliminate Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation: $278 million;
  • Eliminate grants to large and medium-sized hub airports: $585 million;
  • Eliminate Essential Air Service Program: $73 million;
  • Privatize Amtrak: $878 million; and
  • Devolve Federal Highway Program (and gas tax) and most transit spending to states: $25.1 billion.

Beyond these additional cuts identified above, one element sorely missing from the continuing resolution is those appropriations included in Obamacare. Adding these could save billions more.[3] Still more savings could be found in all unnecessary non-security spending that has remained unobligated from prior fiscal years (for example, those more than 36 months old).

Building Momentum

Federal spending has soared in recent years, driving the budget to economically unstable and harmful levels.[4] Substantive cuts this year are imperative to get spending and deficits down and build momentum for additional spending reforms in 2012.

Brian M. Riedl is Grover M. Hermann Research Fellow in Federal Budgetary Affairs, and Emily J. Goff is an Administrative and Research Assistant, in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

Show references in this report



[1]Press release, “CR Spending Cuts to Go Deep,” Committee on Appropriations, U.S. House of Representatives, February 9, 2011, at http://appropriations.house.gov/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressReleases.Detail&PressRelease_id=259 (February 11, 2011).

[2]Brian Riedl, “How to Cut $343 Billion from the Federal Budget,” Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 2483, October 28, 2010, at http://www.heritage.org/Research/Reports/2010/10/How-to-Cut-343-Billion-from-the-Federal-Budget.

[3]See Ernest Istook, “An Opportunity to Defund Obamacare,” The Foundry, February 10, 2011, at http://blog.heritage.org/2011/02/10/an-opportunity-to-defund-obamacare/.

[4]Brian Riedl, “New CBO Budget Baseline Reveals Permanent Trillion-Dollar Deficits,” Heritage Foundation WebMemo No. 3121, January 26, 2011, at http://www.heritage.org/Research/Reports/2011/01/New-CBO-Budget-Baseline-Reveals-Permanent-Trillion-Dollar-Deficits.

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