OPINION
March 7, 2013

The Drama Over, Time For Smart Budget Cuts

Since 2002, total federal spending has increased nearly 89% while median household income has dropped 5%.

By TOM COBURN

Now that budget sequestration is under way, it looks less like the fiscal apocalypse that had been predicted and more like a long-overdue intervention with politicians who are addicted to borrowing and spending.

I agree with President Obama that sequestration’s across-the-board rather than specific cuts are a “dumb” way to reduce spending. That is why I voted against the plan two years ago. But if sequestration is dumb, it’s even dumber not to cut spending at all.

Cutting spending can be a powerful pro-growth strategy, but the outcome of sequestration depends on how the administration chooses to cut. Not all dollars are spent equally: The Obama administration’s decision to spend federal dollars studying how cocaine affects the reproductive habits of Japanese quail didn’t multiply anything other than quail.

Shifting money to working families from quail research—and thousands of other frivolous expenditures—would mean fewer government workers furloughed. The $181,000 quail study alone could prevent 62 furloughs. If the federal government stopped sending unemployment checks to millionaires, it could save $14.8 million a year (according to IRS data) and prevent 5,103 furloughs. Smart savings would mean that single moms and others on a tight budget don’t have to work as much to finance wasteful government spending—and can keep more of their own money to spend, fueling economic growth in the process.

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