February 23, 2016
WASHINGTON, FEB. 23, 2016—The Heritage Foundation today unveiled a model budget for Fiscal Year 2017 that would lower federal spending by $418 billion and put the government on track to end deficit spending in just seven years.
The 187-page proposal, titled “Blueprint for Balance: A Federal Budget for 2017,”would slow the growth in federal spending. At the same time, it would restore defense funding, hard hit by three years of sequestration, to more adequate levels and cut taxes by $1.3 trillion over 10 years.
“We’ve produced this detailed budget book to introduce some much-needed clarity in the budget debate,” said Paul Winfree, director of Heritage’s Roe Institute of Economic Policy Studies and lead editor of the “Blueprint.” “By drawing it up exactly as a legislative proposal would be drawn and focusing on prudent cuts to discretionary spending, we’ve demonstrated that it’s not at all necessary—much less desirable—to spend at the excessive levels outlined in last year’s Boehner-Obama spending deal.”
The Heritage budget achieves much of its immediate cost savings by eliminating programs that: are wasteful or duplicative; would be bettered handled by state or local governments, or are best left to the private sector.
This approach leads the think tank to recommend dropping programs as small as the duplicative USDA Catfish Inspection Program ($14 million annually) and as large as the $1.7 billion Job Corps program, which has been shown to be a waste of taxpayers’ dollars.
As an example of programs that should be turned over to state or local governments, Winfree pointed to the group’s recommendation to phase out the Federal Transit Administration, for a savings of $4 billion. “It’s a classic example of how following the constitutional principle of federalism can produce huge savings for federal taxpayers as well as more efficient delivery of services to the people.”
In addition to identifying specific cuts in discretionary spending, the Heritage budget outlines principles to guide lawmakers in reforming entitlement programs and the tax code. “Entitlements are the big ticket items,” Winfree says. “They are driving the debt, and we’ll never get to balance unless we fix them.” Similarly, he says, “it is also essential to generate revenue by reorienting the tax code to encourage economic growth.”
While the “Blueprint” outlines the direction these larger reform efforts should take, Winfree said they will require presidential as well as congressional leadership to get done. For that reason, Heritage will present its detailed recommendations on these reforms in a second publication later this year.
Meanwhile, Winfree said, “The ‘Blueprint for Balance’ stands as an actionable budget document. By following its recommendations, this Congress would take a meaningful first step toward fiscal responsibility—one that would strengthen America’s economy, civil society and defense.”