More than anything else, what is most needed now is for Congress and the White House to create a culture of cuts within the federal government. There are three critical steps that GOP and Dems need to adopt.
1. OMB needs to simplify the process. OMB needs to make it easier for agencies to understand how to cut programs and return money to the federal Treasury. Last year's memo from OMB on the federal budget, Circular A-123, was oblique in the extreme, and so lengthy, that it is unlikely than many in the federal government read, much less implemented, its statutes. Which may well have been OMB's intention.
2. Stop the pretense. President Obama has become the Posturer-In-Chief, preening and posturing and talking a good story about budget cuts, but doing little to show he is serious. Worse yet, old ambitions to reward political supporters and liberal faithful have merely been disguised as “investments”. In the recent State of the Union address, for example, the president made the mandatory noises about the deficit and "winning the future", but his speech was filled with hundreds of billions of dollars of additional expenditures to be paid for by American taxpayers.
3. It is especially important for legislators and the White House to champion those in the Administration who propose cuts, especially cuts of non-performing programs. No matter how small the amount, drip drop fills the pot, and, after all, the goal is to reduce spending over all of the government.
The good news is that both Congress and the White House know that American taxpayers are watching what they do on the budget, as never before. They also know that come November 2012, American taxpayers will have a way to make their displeasure known, if it seems as if the President or congress have just kicked the budget can further down the road and delayed the hard choices that everyone knows have to be made.