A Modest Proposal: Or a serious look at the US Federal Budget
The following will be a close and lengthy look at the US Federal Budget for 2011. I begin my journey delving into this morass here at
Department of Defense
This is the US military and the largest expenditure. $548.9 Billion which is a 3.4% increase over 2010 spending. This does include $33.0 billion for a
2010 supplemental request and for operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan. but does not include the request of an additional $159.3 billion for
overseas contingency operations. Which would be current Middle East problems like Libya as well as disaster relief to Japan.
Part of the budget goes for medical care to more than 9.5 million beneficiaries: Which include active military members and their families, military
retirees and their families, dependent survivors, and eligible Reserve Component members and families. And of course the pay of current members and
However, currently there are a lot of bases and other military facilities around the world. And I do mean a lot. Between all 5 branches there are 616
bases in the US and 164 bases in the rest of the world, the majority being Europe, Iraq and Afghanistan—which are war zones and should be gone or
significantly reduced in the future.
The Army has 299 bases in the US (not counting Army National Guard Armories) and 125 bases in 9 other countries. The Air Force has 71 US and 36 in
other countries. The Marines have 15 US and 21 in other countries. The Navy has 57 US and 18 in the rest of the world in addition to 11 aircraft
carrier groups which are essentially mobile bases in their own right. And the Coast Guard has 174 bases in the US.
A considerable number of these bases eliminated. Like a Coast Guard base in Omaha, Nebraska for example. EU/NATO counties should provide their own
military (or space as needed for US operations as needed). When you consider that $138.5 billion of the budget is military pay, would it not make more
sense for some of that money be spent in US local economies as opposed to cities in Germany or South Korea? After all, money spent locally tends to
help create local jobs and businesses.
A 20% reduction of the budget would save $109.78 Billion for 2011 alone.
Department of Agriculture
2011 budget is $132.3 Billion. This includes the food for WIC and Food Stamps as well as the crop insurance, food inspectors, etc. The USDA is also
charged with 5 tasks for economic growth and job opportunities by setting aside 5% of the the special $26 billion discretionary spending budget ($1.3
billion) for the following:
Access to broadband services--$418 million
Innovative local and regional food systems--unmentioned
Renewable energy programs--unmentioned
Rural recreation--$700 million
We can only guess as to how the remaining $182 million (or is it $24.9 billion) is dispersed with the other 3 programs. But shouldn't Renewable
Energy Programs be part of the DoE?
And if their programs are working, then why is much of the canned fruit and vegetables in Wal-Mart from South American countries? I would rather see
the USDA spend more on encouraging home gardening and encouragement of farmer's markets for better self-sufficiency than propping up grocery store
chains with bribe money to expand locations in areas where their own common sense tells them is a poor business investment. Realistically speaking, I
think that a 5% budget cut could happen here without endangering the food supply and not just from the above specified special programs ($6.6 billion)
Department of Commerce
$8.9 Billion for 2011. Well how about that American economic competition? $712 million to NIST so you too will know that a pound is still 16 ounces. I
joke of course, but NIST does help set standards for internet protocols, granting of patents through the patent office, etc. The SBA, Census Bureau,
NOAA, NTIA, ITA and various other associations are administered through this department. Hard to trim the fat here but I think they could get by on a
5% cut ($445 million)
National Intelligence Program
The NIP is part of the CIA and by law, this funding is not public knowledge. So since this not the government's money but the citizens money. Your
guess is as good as mine as to how much money is wasted where and on what to gather information on whom. Counter-terrorism, cyber-security, where the
weapons of mass destruction are... it is all found here. How much of it is spent on going back in to people's pockets is anyone's guess as well.
Maybe this is where some of those $500 hammers are bought now. Or maybe this is the lowest and most efficiently spent part of the budget and they
would be embarrassed to admit how little is spent to keep the country safe from terrorism.
Department of Education
Before I even get into this, you can hear the chainsaw running. $49.7 Billion to operate and $135 Billion in loans. Let me start by saying that
college is a business. Funded by enrollment and heavily subsidized by the taxpayers. All federal funding should be cut other than research grants that
get tangible results (whether the study was successful or not—at least you know the idea did not work). Now if you cut out spending on colleges and
let them sink or swim on their own, $8.5 Billion right there. Add to it the $135 billion of loans for colleges and you see a nice chunk of money
saved. ($143.5 billion)
Department of Energy
$31.65 Billion for 2011. The DoE was created under Jimmy Carter with the main goal to eliminate dependence on foreign oil. This department has failed
miserably at this task. Total savings potential here is 90% with the remaining 10% to be dispersed to other departments to handle things that have be
taken care of like Nuclear Regulatory Board and inspectors. ($28.5 billion saved)
Department of Health and Human Services
This was once called welfare but it includes the CDC, FDA, Medicare, SSI and other beneficial agencies. Total budget is $900.85 billion. The estimated
population of the US is 310 million people. This department has a budget of $900.85 billion. That is enough for every man, woman and child to be
handed $2905.97, that is absolutely amazing. The Jamestown settlement had a policy, if you don't work then you don't eat. If the other departments
really and truly accomplished job growth and job security, how low would this budget become? I am willing to bet close to $311.4 billion, however
until that day comes let's go with 10% to ferret out wasted and redundant payroll and scam artists. ($90.1 billion)