Blog: If It Were Up to You, What Would You Cut?

Is this program so important, so critical, it is worth borrowing money from China to pay for it?

In all the back and forth discussions on the economy, there is little that is agreed upon among the politicians or the voting public. One possible exception would be that the current situation is unsustainable.

I’d like to find more exceptions, but I am a realist. As a writer, I get to tilt at the windmills of my choosing and hope that what I am passionate about resonates with others, at least once they have read my arguments and positions. As a voter I get to support, with my ballot, the politicians, political parties, agendas or issues that agree with my choice of windmill targets.

While not everyone can or is inclined to put their face out there to be metaphorically punched by the opposition by writing about what they believe, every citizen in this country is able to make their voices heard at the ballot box. The fact that a distressing number of my fellow citizens choose not to exercise this right baffles me, but that is their right as well.

For the purposes of this little experiment, I ask only those who are also intending to vote in the upcoming elections sound off; if you are not willing to put in the effort to vote, I don’t think you have a right to be heard on this or any other issue.

I’ve decided to compile at least a partial list of the programs and expenditures of our government that I’m willing to see cut in these economic times. Some of these programs are federal, some are state or local, but all are either a complete waste of taxpayer dollars or are things I’d rather do without in favor of other, in my opinion, more important causes.

I’ve actually written about this before, tongue in cheek (http://plainfield.patch.com/blog_posts/the-economic-crisis-is-over), but this time, I am writing in all seriousness. If you follow the above link, you’ll see that some of the programs on my "serious list" are the same I joke about before; chalk it up to the adage that the best humor has a basis in truth.

There are two types of services or programs our government should be funding, essential services and needs, and those that make us a better country but aren’t strictly necessary for the functioning of our society. This type of division is at the heart of what other countries are facing under the heading of an "Austerity Plan."

I firmly believe if drastic action is not taken, and taken soon, we will be facing our own government imposed Austerity plan right here in the good ol' U. S of A. Before that happens, we should at least start having conversations on what we, the people, consider to be essential programs and what we, the people, consider wants instead of needs.

So, without further ado, these are some of the programs I’d be willing to see on the chopping block, in the interest of bringing down our national debt, reducing the deficit and realigning our spending with the reality of the economic times. I don’t pretend to be a government watchdog, aware of every wasteful, redundant, excessive or unnecessary program out there, so if I’ve missed a few that make your hit list, by all means, feel free to tell me what I’ve missed.

PBS – yes, Public Broadcasting Service. This is one I’d cut as I view it as a luxury to be put back on the funding list only when all the essential services are fully funded; this is a want, not a need.

NEA – National Endowment for the Arts. Again, a want, not a need. A society is judged prosperous by how well it supports the arts. When we are once again prosperous, maybe this one can go back on the negotiating table.

GPO – Government Printing Office. This one is partially an essential service, partially a want. While it is imperative the government print lots of things, doing it in English is sufficient. We are a polyglot nation, but, in order to become a citizen of this country, you must be fluent enough to pass the citizenship exam and take the oath in English. Stopping the printing of pamphlets and documents in other languages would both save untold millions and create jobs for those who are fluent in other languages; an entire cottage industry would arise overnight. This is one that does not go back on the list of taxpayer-funded programs. Ever.

Tourist boards. This one has always cracked me up. Have the boundaries of states or even our country changed? Does anyone in the world not know where the United States is on the map? Do residents of Illinois need to see commercials and advertisements for recreational opportunities here in Illinois?

Government-funded studies of the population or the decline of any endangered or threatened species, environmental system, flora or fauna. I share my home with two dogs, a cat and a new kitten. In other words, I am a huge animal lover. But, I love people even more. When the needs of all the humans in this country are addressed and protected, I’ll agree to spending money on determining the plight of other creatures. Strange as it may seem, this may be the hardest category to cut, as most of these programs are pork barrels sponsored and pushed through by politicians who are trying to bring home the bacon for their districts in order to get re-elected.

Any funding for illegal aliens. This includes medical other than emergency care; if you are found to be in this country illegally and you show up at an emergency room, once you are well enough to travel, you are immediately deported to your country of origin. A bill for your care, as well as all the costs associated with your detainment and deportation is then submitted to your country of origin.

We are out of money, folks. There simply is not enough to go around. Figure out the difference between a want and a need, a necessity and a luxury before we can no longer afford the necessities. The best line out of last week’s debate, uttered by either candidate, was “Is this program so important, so critical, that it is worth borrowing money from China to pay for it?”

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John Tips October 09, 2012 at 04:15 PM
I was employed by the Department of Defense for 37 years and know without a doubt that the $666.2 Billion dollars in discretionary spending is a another windfall for all of the Departments under DOD. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_United_States_federal_budget. When we speak of discretionary Spending we do not speak of the daily cost of having, and operating our military which according to the 2013 budget above was 6.7 Billion Dollars. Military Veterans are taken care of by The department of Veterans Affairs, not DOD! I know I am one of the 47%! Contractors are both a reality and a burden to the Military, however we do not scrutinize them as we don't have a clear picture of what their travel costs are, or how they handle their employees. We do however agree with you that all government travel costs could be cut drastically by using the military equivalent of video conferencing! Just a note FYI: In my 37 year tenure, our headquarters moved to 5 times and to 3 different states. Each and every time they bought brand new desks, and filing cabs, computers and other items. The furniture generally was thrown away, and the HON (brand) filing cabs were discarded to a scrap pile! Extra positions were created and middle management gained positions often only managing two to three lower graded supervisors! I retired after 37 years, and remain steadfast in my opinion that the system is broken and needs an overhaul! ...
RB October 10, 2012 at 12:07 AM
First thing I would do is reduce military spending. This is the big ticket item in the budget and there is certain a lot of waste in it that could be cut without endangering the security of this country.
PfieldJim October 10, 2012 at 03:01 AM
Several previous comments pointed to a great start at reducing government spending: No more spending on any non-US Citizens. Government spending comes from the work of US taxpayers. As such, the beneficiaries of these taxes should be US citizens. This means no more foreign aid except in cases of natural disasters. And when we do send humanitarian aid, it should only be in the form of blankets, water, medical supplies, and food (all produced and purchased only in the US). Also, we must absolutely stop all domestic benefits of any kind to illegal aliens (food stamps, medical, education, or otherwise). Put more Americans back to work locating and removing illegal aliens. Imagine the money saved and jobs created if ICE and border patrol actually started enforcing immigration laws.
Denise Williams October 10, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Jim, I have to disagree with the non-US citizen position. I agree with denying benefits of any kind to those who are here illegally and with cutting foreign aid, but I don't have a problem with spending some on those who came here legally and are/have/will contribute to our society. Of course, that domestic spending would be very limited and commensurate with what they've out into the system, which is what the benchmark should be for all domestic spending. Maybe that would also effect the generational welfare problem?
PfieldJim October 11, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Denise, I actually agree with you, but should have stated my position more clearly. Anyone who who is in the country legally and contributes to society should definitely have access to the government benefits and programs afforded other taxpayers and citizens of the U.S. To me, the basic premise should be to "help those who help themselves". Our government programs should be designed to give a "hand up", not a "hand out". I believe anyone asking for government aid (welfare, food, medical, or even education loans), should be required to give back to their community in exchange for the assistance. I guarantee there would be less people applying for government aid if they had to volunteer a few hours each week in a nursing home, clean up the ditches of debris, or even (in the case of student grants and loans) serve in the military or Peace Corps as a condition of receiving "free" money.


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