Federal or state budget cuts - where's the difficulty in deciding what to cut?

It isn’t rocket science in deciding what to cut. Simply look back 20 to 25 years. Any programs what weren’t in existence then people obviously lived without. They can live without them now also. Cut all of those programs off. People on the receiving end of these programs won’t like it much, but in the wake of multi TRILLIONS of dollars in debt, is there any other choice?

That was a vague solution. Why don’t you name five specific programs you would cut?

For, for example, with the military, don’t fund any hardware that wasn’t available 25 years ago. If it was good enough to use fighting in Vietnam, why isn’t it good enough to use today? With hospitals, don’t fund anything that wasn’t available 25 years ago. And so on. Is that what you had in mind?

Because the larger the agency for cutting, the more highly paid lobbyists and union reps there will be with a detailed plan on how cutting somewhere else will work better.

And another whole raft of people who will assert that no cuts are needed - just raise taxes on “the rich”, where “rich” is defined as “someone else”.


Different people have different priorities. For instance, I think that public libraries need a much bigger budget, for more materials AND for longer hours, and I think that public money shouldn’t be used to subsidize sports arenas at all. However, football fans might very well want to have a football stadium built with public money, despite the fact that the local football team owner has about seventeen gazillion dollars and can afford to build it himself.

And, of course, technology advances, and we have a lot of things that weren’t available 25 years ago. Schools NEED to be able to teach kids using today’s technology, for instance.

Why 20-25 years? Why not 50-100 years? You’d save even more money. And you premise that people can “obviously live without” is flawed. There are people who would not be alive if not for programs that didn’t exist 25 years ago. Aids patients on the drug cocktails, transplant patients, etc. Conversly you’ll find programs (especially in education or in-patient mental health) that were better funded in the '80s, since you’re turning back the clock would you restore funding to past levels?

A few things we didn’t have 25 years ago:

– Programs to fight online identity theft

– AIDS prevention and treatment programs

– Ambassadors/embassies etc. in the 14 former Soviet republics aside from Russia

– Cell phone regulation

– Programs to fight methamphetamine production and abuse

But I guess if we didn’t need them then, we don’t need them now.

Does that also mean that we should reinstate any programs that existed 25 years ago? We should cut computer labs, but bring back typing class?

There’s one place where you could save a lot of money: libraries need not buy anything published in the last 25 years. If the library users did not need it in 1986, why do they need it now?

Ooh, can I be Ambassador to East Germany?

Black people lived without the vote for quite a while. Surely they can do it again, and then we’d save all kinds of money on polling booths.

Yes, actually. There is another choice.

Yes, but I can’t explain it to you right now because they’re taking away the Internet. Didn’t have it 25 years ago, y’see.

I can see this is going to be a standard Straight Dope pile-on, but I somewhat agree with the OP’s methodology. Sometimes you can learn from history.

The first step to balancing the budget should be to say, “At one point we had a balanced budget (2001), how to we get back there?” Not necessarily saying the budget should reflect 2001 in all ways, but that should be a starting point, and decide where you want to diverge from there. As you diverge from that budget, cut spending for any tax decreases or increase taxes for any spending increases. There is no other way.

All discussions about balancing the budget should start with this paragraph from Wikipedia (below).

“According to the CBO, the U.S. last had a surplus during fiscal year (FY) 2001. From FY2001 to FY2009, spending increased by 6.5% of GDP (from 18.2% of GDP to 24.7%) while taxes declined by 4.7% of GDP (from 19.5% of GDP to 14.8%). The drivers of the expense increases (expressed as % of GDP) are Medicare & Medicaid (1.7%), Defense (1.6%), Income Security such as unemployment benefits and food stamps (1.4%), Social Security (0.6%) and all other categories (1.2%). The drivers of tax reductions are individual income taxes (-3.3%), payroll taxes (-0.5%), corporate income taxes (-0.5%) and other (-0.4%). The 2009 spending level is the highest relative to GDP in 40 years, while the tax receipts are the lowest relative to GDP in 40 years.”

2009 was the tail end of the recession. Its probably not a great year to use for comparisons, or at least the most valuable information your likely to gain from using it is that if you want to balance your budget, the most important thing you can do is not be in a recession.

I kind of figured that what I was talking about would be rather obvious, but apparently not. Therefore, maybe I should have mentioned in the OP that I was speaking primarily of entitlements and other outright wastes of taxpayers money. We can start with Obamacare. :rolleyes:

I thought "Obamacare"was going to save the gov’t about a trillion dollars. Make everyone take some personal responsibility and not rely on free government health care. Or something like that.

Then your title was disingenuous, since you posited a supposedly neutral approach to debt reduction. If you just wanted to bitch about Obamacare, start a thread about that - you’ll have a lot of company. Or join an already-posted thread bitching about Obamacare.

Obamacare is projected to reduce the deficit. Most other entitlement programs are considerably older then 25 years.

When I mentioned Obamacare, apparently the words “We can start with” weren’t bold enough to be seen. My bad. :rolleyes: