Fighting for a U.S. federal budget that prioritizes peace, economic security and shared prosperity

Want to cut spending, Republicans? Liberals have some ideas for that.

NPP Pressroom

Washington Post
Paul Waldman

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has found his talking point in response to President Biden’s refusal to negotiate over whether the government should default on its debts. “I want to look the president in the eye and [have him] tell me there’s not one dollar of wasteful spending in government,” the California Republican has said. “Who believes that? The American public doesn’t believe that.”

That isn’t really the question—like any large organization, the federal government surely has some waste it could cut—but eliminating wasteful spending wouldn’t get us very far. The deficit for fiscal year 2022 was $1.375 trillion, and we’re not overpaying that much for pencils and file folders. Balancing the budget as Republicans are asking for would require truly spectacular evisceration of programs Americans rely on.

So here’s another question: If we wanted to do some budget-cutting—not under the extortionist threat of default, but just because it might be worthwhile—what federal spending do liberals think we could do without?


Some of these experts noted that we spend less on our government as a percentage of gross domestic product than most of our peer countries do, and we also tax less than most of them do.

But if you do want to make cuts, you might as well start where the money goes: The biggest items in the federal budget are Social Security, health care (including Medicare and Medicaid) and the military. As a general rule, Republicans would like to cut the first two, while Democrats would rather cut the third.

The military is the place to start cutting, said Lindsay Koshgarian of the Institute for Policy Studies. “More than half of the military budget goes to contractors in an average year, subsidizing multimillion-dollar CEO salaries and stock buybacks, as well as cases of egregious overcharging,” she told me. “Trimming weapons and military contracts is long overdue. And Congress routinely refuses to allow the Pentagon to retire weapons systems it no longer wants.”

Read the full article at the Washington Post.

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