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Obama’s Proposed Cuts and the Scope of Government

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

The president’s fiscal 2013 budget includes a 213 page document that contains 210 proposed cuts, consolidations, and other savings. That sounds like a lot until one finds out that the alleged savings would only amount to $24 billion in a $3.8 trillion budget. Not only would the cuts do little to reduce the size of government, they would do nothing to reign in the scope of government.

The following are a few examples of what I’m talking about:

  • The administration proposes to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Automotive Technology program for savings of $16 million. However, the proposed cut doesn’t reflect a sudden desire to end federal “green” subsidies to car manufacturers. Instead, the administration says “other Federal programs are better positioned to research, develop, demonstrate, and deploy a broad suite of advanced vehicle technologies.”

  • The administration proposes to cut funding for the Department of Health and Human Service’s Community Services Block Grant program from $679 million to $350 million. The administration cites reports from the HHS inspector general and the Government Accountability Office that “have documented failures in program oversight and accountability.” However, instead of proposing to completely terminate it, the administration says it’s going to fix the program and basically apologizes for having to cut it to meet discretionary spending caps.
  • The administration proposes to cut funding by $226 million for fossil fuel subsidies administered by the Department of Energy. These subsidies should be eliminated. But they should be eliminated along with all energy subsidies because the federal government should stop trying to pick winners and losers in the energy market. Unfortunately, it appears that the administration is really only interested in scoring political points with the “green” crowd.
  • The administration proposes to save a whopping $3 million by terminating the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s public broadcasting grant program. The administration correctly points out that the program is duplicative of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. However, the CPB would get another $1 million in funding for an overall budget of $445 million. In other words, the proposed cut would have practically no effect on the federal government’s subsidization of PBS and NPR.

I could go on and on with examples but there’s no point. A glass-half-full type might say, “Well, at least the administration is proposing to cut something.” Unfortunately, the glass is nowhere close to being half full – it’s empty. The administration’s relatively paltry savings would still leave the budget with a projected deficit of $901 billion for fiscal 2013. And the deficit would only be smaller than last year because the government is projected to take in more revenue – not because the government would spend less. Worse, the federal government under this budget would continue to be an intrusive, metastasizing cancer on individual liberty and the economy.

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