Senator Pryor asks for Spending Cut Suggestions! Here are a few!(Part 75)

Senator Mark Pryor wants our ideas on how to cut federal spending. Take a look at this video clip below:

Senator Pryor has asked us to send our ideas to him at cutspending@pryor.senate.gov and I have done so in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

On May 11, 2011,  I emailed to this above address and I got this email back from Senator Pryor’s office:

Please note, this is not a monitored email account. Due to the sheer volume of correspondence I receive, I ask that constituents please contact me via my website with any responses or additional concerns. If you would like a specific reply to your message, please visit http://pryor.senate.gov/contact. This system ensures that I will continue to keep Arkansas First by allowing me to better organize the thousands of emails I get from Arkansans each week and ensuring that I have all the information I need to respond to your particular communication in timely manner.  I appreciate you writing. I always welcome your input and suggestions. Please do not hesitate to contact me on any issue of concern to you in the future.

Here are a few more I just emailed to him myself:

GUIDELINE #4: Terminate failed, outdated, and irrelevant programs.
President Ronald Reagan once pointed out that “a government bureau is the closest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on earth.” A large portion of the current federal bureaucracy was created during the 1900s, 1930s, and 1960s in attempts to solve the unique problems of those eras.
Instead of replacing the outdated programs of the past, however, each period of government activism has built new programs on top of them. Ford Motor Company would not waste money today by building outdated Model T’s alongside their current Mustangs and Explorers. However, in 2004, the federal government still refuses to close down old agencies such as the Rural Utilities Service (designed to bring phones to rural America) and the U.S. Geological Survey (created to explore and detail the nation’s geography).
Government must be made light and flexible, adaptable to the new challenges the country will face in the 21st century. Weeding out the failed and outdated bureaucracies of the past will free resources to modernize the government.
Status Quo Bias. Lawmakers often acknowledge that certain programs show no positive effects. Regrettably, they also refuse to terminate even the most irrelevant programs. The most obvious reason for this timidity is an aversion to fighting the special interests that refuse to let their pet programs end without a bloody fight.
A less obvious reason is that eliminating government programs seems reckless and bold to legislators who have never known a federal government without them. Although thousands of programs have come and gone in the nation’s 228-year history, virtually all current programs were created before most lawmakers came to Washington. For legislators who are charged with budgeting and implementing the same familiar programs year after year, a sense of permanency sets in, and termination seems unfathomable.7 No one even remembers when a non-government entity addressed the problems.
The Department of Energy, for example, has existed for just one-tenth of the country’s history, yet closing it down seems ridiculous to those who cannot remember the federal government before 1977 and for whom appropriating and overseeing the department has been an annual ritual for years. Lawmakers need a long-term perspective to assure them the sky does not fall when a program is terminated. For example, the Bureau of Mines and the U.S. Travel and Tourism Administration, both closed in 1996, are barely remembered today.8
Instead of just assuming that whoever created the programs decades ago must have been filling some important need that probably exists today, lawmakers should focus on the future by asking themselves the following question: If this program did not exist, would I vote to create it? Because the answer for scores of programs would likely be “no,” Congress should:
  • Close down failed or outdated agencies, programs, and facilities, including:
  1. The U.S. Geological Survey9 (2004 spending: $841 million, discretionary);10
  2. The Maritime Administration ($633 million, discretionary);
  3. The International Trade Commission ($61 million, discretionary);
  4. The Economic Development Administration ($417 million, discretionary);
  5. The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program ($1,892 million, discretionary);
  6. The Technology Opportunities Program ($12 million, discretionary);
  7. Obsolete military bases;
  8. The Appalachian Regional Commission ($94 million, discretionary);
  9. Obsolete Veterans Affairs facilities;
  10. The Rural Utilities Service (-$1,493 million,11 mandatory); and
  11. Repeal Public Law 480’s non-emergency international food programs ($127 million, discretionary)

This is how bad it is getting:

  • Discretionary spending is the portion of the annual budget that Congress actually determines.
  • Since 2000, discretionary outlays surged 79 percent faster than inflation, to $1,408 billion. The “stimulus” is responsible for $111 billion of 2010 discretionary spending.
  • Between 1990 and 2000, $80 billion annually in new domestic spending was more than fully offset by a $100 billion cut in annual defense and homeland security spending, leaving (inflation-adjusted) discretionary spending slightly lower.
  • Since 2000, all types of discretionary spending have grown rapidly.
  • Overall, since 1990, domestic discretionary spending has risen 104 percent faster than inflation and defense/security discretionary spending has risen 51 percent.
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