Eight Programs Get the Axe

Sorry for another budget post so soon, but my wife forwarded me an article I thought was worth sharing. It seems that there actually are some federal programs out there that are so bad that both parties can agree to kill them when a “government shutdown” is the alternative.

Congressional leaders agreed to end eight programs this week. You can see a profile of each program here. Some were redundant, some had outlived their usefulness, and at least one program ($30 million to “revitalize” buildings at the Smithsonian Institution) was unnecessary because–wonder of wonders–private contributions were sufficient to cover the project. As my friend Shawn Ritenour often reminds us, culture survives even when the government doesn’t pay for it.

Of course, these eight programs combined ($1.2 billion) account for a laughably small percentage of the deficit. Defunding some earmarks brought the total spending reduction to just over $4 billion. So all we need to do is go through this process 400 more times in the next couple of months and this year’s projected $1.6 trillion will be eliminated! What could be simpler?

About Dr. J

I am Professor of Humanities at Faulkner University, where I chair the Department of Humanities and direct online M.A. and Ph.D. programs based on the Great Books of Western Civilization. I am also Associate Editor of the Journal of Faith and the Academy and a member of the faculty at Liberty Classroom.
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7 Responses to Eight Programs Get the Axe

  1. worldtake says:

    To put those numbers even further into perspective:
    When we subtract 1.2 billion(1,200,000,000) from 1.6 trillion(1,600,000,000,000) the remaining amount is roughly 5.98 Trillion. I did a little ratio and proportion algorithm on this using Mount Everest for comparison. The mountain is 29,029 feet high and given that one dollar is equivalent to one foot, climbing the mountain to the height that compares to these cuts, one would only have climbed 21.79 feet of the 29,029 or if we use the empire state building which is 1250 feet one would have climbed roughly a whopping eleven and one-fourth inches.

  2. worldtake says:

    Here is my take on how to fix the budget.

    • Dr. J says:

      Worldtake, your repeated bashing of those who think that raising taxes is not the answer to the budget problems shows me that you are simply refusing to take into account the rate at which federal spending has ballooned over the last decade at rates far greater than the country’s rate of economic growth. Despite your repeated assertions, this is not a case of people “wanting a country and refusing to pay for it.” It’s a case of federal spending out of control and needing to be reduced to historic proportions.

      The top 1% of income earners already pay close to 40% of all income taxes the government collects, an amount that exceeds the share of national wealth they control. Your solution of raising taxes on them will give them more incentives to take their wealth overseas in the same way that high-income earners have been leaving California for lower-tax jurisdictions for years. Ask Californians how their budget is doing.

  3. worldtake says:

    Woops! My mistake. It is 1.598 not 5.98 trillion. I just copied the figures wrong from my spreadsheet.

  4. worldtake says:

    Dr. J,

    The assertion that the uber rich pay close to 40% is a good example of not telling the whole truth with statistics. A more accurate statement would be: The rich are supposed to pay 40% of all income taxes. In reality, due to having an army of lawyers to find every possible loop-hole, coupled with the benefit of having large quantities of their money in offshore accounts, these individuals end up paying a fraction of that amount.
    Also these same individuals are the ones that control the major corporations and these Entities seem to do quite well at avoiding taxes as well.
    If an individual makes 100 million dollars and actually pays the roughly 38 million in taxes — this has never happened — that means she or he has 62 million left. How is that not enough for this person?
    Raising their taxes will give them incentive to go overseas? Haven’t they been doing that right along for at least the last 30 years? Haven’t they been closing their factories and moving to countries where they can pay slave wages so they can stuff their already too full pockets AND avoid taxes? I say good riddance to them.
    What I would like to see is the rise of not-for-profit corporations in this country. Corporations that have the goal of serving the community not of making a profit. By far out of the many places I have worked, the two not-for-profits I have worked for: Child Incorporated in Austin, and AURORA of CNY where I currently work as an O&M instructor and blind rehab teacher, have been, by far, the best run on all levels. The fact that some parasite is not just sitting there taking in money without doing anything, has no effect on how hard people work and the quality of the product. In fact it has been my observation that the product is of greater quality than any produced by the for-profit corporate world.

    • Dr. J says:

      My understanding is that the IRS data shows that the 38% figure comes AFTER the rich people do all their fancy tricks with the lawyers. This is taxes actually paid. If you have proof to the contrary, please share. Any corporate tax comes over and above this figure.

      But here’s the point I think you are missing: let’s say your fantasy comes true and the top 1% of income earners have all income beyond, say, $1 million confiscated by the government. And let’s further assume that these people stick around and take it rather than leaving the country. And let’s further assume that they work just as hard as before and continue to make the same amount of money for the government to take away from them–your reference to them as “parasites” shows that you are not familiar with the statistics on how hard the top 1% of income earners work.

      There still aren’t enough of these people to matter when it comes to balancing the federal budget. All their income won’t make a dent, even if we make the most generous assumptions possible to your side. All the confiscation will do is to gratify class envy. Envy being one of the Seven Deadly Sins, I don’t think this is a good motivation for policy.

      Your last paragraph leads me to think that you don’t have a good understanding of how wealth is created and the enormous amounts of capital accumulation and reinvestment necessary to sustain our way of life. Even if everyone works really hard, if there’s no capital we’ll still all be dirt poor. Capital accumulation comes out of profit. You seem to think that profit is immoral in and of itself, but the logical conclusion to that line of thought is a return to subsistence agriculture and the death of most of the world’s population.

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