Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today released Prime Cuts 2016, the latest edition of the group’s comprehensive waste-cutting recommendations that would eliminate unnecessary and ineffective federal programs and spending. If all of the recommendations were adopted, Congress could balance the federal budget in one year.
While this comprehensive list of spending cuts is valuable at any time in Washington, it is particularly useful in this election year when candidates across the nation routinely promise to cut waste, fraud, and abuse in government. Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said during a GOP primary debate on February 13, 2016, “There’s tremendous waste, fraud, and abuse, and we’re going to get it.” Presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton made a similar claim in her announcement speech on June 13, 2015: “We need expertise and innovation from the private sector to help cut waste and streamline services.” Prime Cuts 2016 gives both candidates a blueprint for making good on their campaign pledges.
Prime Cuts has been published annually since 1993. Since CAGW’s inception in 1984, the implementation of the group’s recommendations has saved taxpayers more than $1.4 trillion. The 2016 version comprises 618 recommendations from bipartisan and nonpartisan sources including the Government Accountability Office, Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and President Obama’s “Cuts, Consolidations, and Savings” budget recommendations. The total savings from Prime Cuts reaches $644.1 billion in the first year and $2.6 trillion over five years. The CBO estimatesthat the fiscal year (FY) 2016 budget deficit will be $534 billion. Therefore, if all of the Prime Cuts recommendations were enacted, a balanced budget could be achieved in one year.
There are no “sacred cows” in Prime Cuts 2016. With the national debt at $19.3 trillion, no area of government should be shielded from spending cuts, including the Department of Defense. One of the many recommendations in Prime Cuts that would not affect national security is the elimination of unrequested funds to upgrade the M1 Abrams tank, which would save $40 million in one year and $200 million over five years.
Prime Cuts 2016 also calls for a 50 percent cut in Medicare improper payments, which totaled $43.3 billion in FY 2015. The ongoing suspension of certain audits under the Recovery Audit Contractor program, which has saved $11.3 billion for the Medicare Trust Fund, is exacerbating this growing problem. Restoring the audits would save billions every year.
Other recommendations include privatizing the fiscally endangered United States Postal Service (USPS), which lost $5.1 billion last year; eliminating the Market Access Program, which would save $1 billion over five years; eliminating sugar, dairy, and peanut subsidies, which would save a combined $12 billion over five years; replacing the $1 bill with a $1 coin, which would save $730 million over five years; preventing the Federal Communications Commission from increasing regulations on the Internet; and, increasing the use of software asset management.
“By following the blueprint provided by CAGW’s Prime Cuts 2016, wasteful government spending can be eliminated, the U.S. can achieve the first balanced budget since FY 1998, and the nation can begin to lower the fiscally calamitous national debt,” said CAGW President Tom Schatz. “Prime Cuts 2016 is essential reading for taxpayers, the media, legislators, and candidates alike.”
Citizens Against Government Waste is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government.
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