What federal program or expenditure that you use would you be willing to cut?

A White House commission on reducing the federal deficit releases its report today. President Obama has warned that cutting the deficit will mean “broad sacrifice.” Today’s Question: What federal program or expenditure that you use would you be willing to cut?

  • Hiram

    MPR for one. And I say that as a friend. Is taking what little money public radio gets from the federal government worth all the aggravation?

  • Laura Ross

    I am a social worker for a county; I have seen way too many cuts already, most of which affect the poor more than the rest of us. I can’t see cutting much anywhere, but my partner and I, who fall in the category which would be taxed higher if Bush’s cuts are dropped for the higher earning, are quite willing to pay the higher taxes. We are quite aware of how fortunate we are, and of our responsibility to care for others and not just ouselves.

    One huge area to cut would be the Pentagon budget, which could be halved and still keep us in a position of military power. I speak as a mom of an active National Guard member.

  • Phil

    The U.S. Postal Service for sure. About 90% of the “mail” I receive is recycled. I could easily live with mail delivery 3 times a week. I do not need trash delivered to my doorstep 6 days a week.

    The Postal Service should also raise its rates significantly to be recover the full cost of delivery. Bulk mailing rates and other forms of government sponsored junk mail should be eliminated.

    In Australia, citizens are given the choice of opting out of junk mail. Perhaps we could learn a lession from them.

  • @Hiram: Good point, but whether NPR’s government funding is the current ~10% of its total budget or zero would probably make no difference to its detractors, who don’t bother to learn how little federal funding it already receives.

    Personally, I think it’s time for military spending to be put “on the table.” It is by far the biggest piece of the pie; even the Pentagon admits it doesn’t need or even want some of what it gets; and an obscene amount of the money is going to private, for-profit defense contractors with no oversight or accountability to the public.

  • Marie

    I’m 41, and I pay almost $400 every two weeks for Medicare and Social Security through witholding; I’m fairly sure I’ll never benefit from Social Security or Medicare in my lifetime. These two programs are bloated and inefficient. The Federal Government had better be looking at ALL programs, and not exempting one group over the other. Frankly, prioritizing the elderly over young people is morally bankrupt. We are not funding social services at the County level adequately to ensure that our young people grow up to be healthy, productive members of society. Just because the elderly vote, doesn’t mean they should receive a political pass everytime we have this conversation about our priorities.

  • Gary F

    1. Funding for NPR/PBS. It’s truly not needed. It’s such a drop in the bucket for them, they can learn to live without it.

    2. I basically have no choice but to use ethanol mixed fuel in my car. It’s bad for groundwater. The corn could be used to feed people or animals, and all the fertilizer runoff.

    3. The military bases in Germany. Let them take a bigger part in defending themselves.

  • Steve the Cynic

    I don’t exactly use the military, but I do benefit from the way it keeps petroleum cheap and flowing freely around the world. I would be willing to have gas prices rise, and even pay a petroleum tax dedicated to funding the military, if it meant we could spend less on our weapons of mass destruction. There would be fringe benefits, too. If we weren’t spending as much on the military as the rest of the world combined, we’d have more incentive to make friends instead of enemies.

  • bsimon

    tax cuts. Cut ’em. Or, rather, let them expire. More indirectly, I benefit from subsidized food – we should cut ag subsidies, or redirect them towards subsidizing fresh food rather than producing excessive amounts of high fructose corn syrup & other processed derivatives.

  • Mike R.




    Bases in hundreds of countries.

    More spending than the rest of the world combined.


  • Ross

    Would it be wise to reduce the number of military bases around the world? Do we need the physical presence around the world when our main enemy has become nationless threats? I’m not sure-just a thought.

  • Brian

    There should be “broad [or shared] sacrifice” only if there had been broad or shared profits over the last few years. That certainly has not been the case.

    From Reagan to today, the wealthy have greatly increased their wealth, the middle class has shrunk, and the percentage of Americans living in poverty has increased. At no time since the late 1920s has so much wealth been concentrated in the hands of so few people in this country. Corporations are experiencing record profits, Wall Street is rolling in money, and millions of people–many of whom used to be middle class– are suffering. Excuse me, but looking at that picture, how can one talk about the need for “broad sacrifice.”

    It seems to me that everyone in this country but the most wealthy have experienced a huge amount of sacrifce over the last three decades–and above all over the last decade.

    I totally support a proposal that David Stockman (Reagan’s former budget director) made recently on “60 minutes.” The Bush tax cuts should be allowed to expire (all of them!), and a surtax should be added to the income of the wealthiest 5% of Americans. The people who have benefitted should be the ones who pay.

    Now, what federal programs am I willing to do without. I collect social security and I’m on medicare, and I’m certainly not willing to deal with any cuts to either one–either for me or for future generations.

    It’s time for the mega-rich, for the people who have benefitted, to start paying their share.

  • steve

    i would cut back on taxes and military and the mail service to 3 days-reduce the amt of junk mail!

  • Karl Beach

    After a decade of two ‘off the books’ wars and ‘tax cuts for everyone’ there’s a deficit. Who could have possibly seen that coming? Now it’s being said we…as a nation…can’t afford to extend unemployment benefits to those displaced, in essence, by massive shifts in the global economy and the surrender of our manufacturing base while we can afford to continue ‘tax cuts for everyone’. I’ve been fortunate in life and consider it a duty/privilege to fund the social contract and defend our ‘thin veneer of civilization’ against the Dark Age that appears to be looming. I do not need my (unrequested) tax cut to be made permanent.

  • Wade

    Food Stamps and most other welfare/socialist programs.

    If society must keep a food stamps style program it should be modeled after WIC. IT should dictate exactly what the recipient can receive and they should be the cheapest options available.

    As a high income earner, I pay more than enough in taxes. I am not willing to pay more.

    The next place to start cutting is senate and legislature retirement benefits. Perhaps if they had health care retirement benefits like the rest of us, they may vote differently.

    Also I like the idea of cutting farm subsidies. In a capitalistic society, the strong survive.

  • Bernard

    Want capitalism? go full force. Cut subsidies to the military, to the department of agriculture, to banks, to everyone. . .We can do without mortgage tax deductionsand “public housing” ; but so should the farmers and others do without their “hog troughs”

    We should allow ALL tax cuts to expire–forget who should get anything. go cold turkey! We have stripped all the low lying fruit and we need to be brave.

  • Shane

    I think our debt is a serious problem. As a young homeowner I would be willing to give up the mortgage interest tax deduction.

  • Daniel Jones

    I too “use” the military in the sense that I benefit from the protections that it affords. However, the military budget is unsustainable in these times. We need to scale back and reorganize the military to run efficiently and with far fewer dollars.

    The question also seems to be asking what programs would I very reluctantly scale back, so to that end I would say NASA should probably take a cut for a while. It’s hard to admit that, b/c I’ve been a lifelong fan of NASA. But the solutions to the enormous problems before us are not up in space. Don’t dump it entirely, but scale it back until we climb out of this mess.

    Finally, does the US Mint really need to issue so many different quarters and other coins? I don’t recall there ever being a problem getting people interested in collecting money…

  • Barry

    I would gladly pay more for food and clothing if the federal government would cut back the subsidies to large farmers who produce food and cotton.

  • Steve D

    1. Cut the defense department.

    2. Cut the subsidies to the corporations.

    3. Cut future benefits increase for social security

    4. Cut the Federal civil workforce by 15%

    5. Allow all the tax cuts to expire

    6. Raise the Gas Tax.

    7. Cut the deductions and lower the tax brackets,

    make sure this raises revenue.

    8. Cut farm subsidizes but increase and improve the

    crop insurance.

    9. Finish the National Health Insurance too.

  • Jeff

    Cut the federal budget across the board and raise taxes once the economy has fully-recovered. These debt levels are unacceptable, we are at nearly 100% of debt as a percentage of GDP. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:US_Federal_Debt_as_Percent_of_GDP_by_President.jpg

  • Steve the Cynic

    After decades of living beyond our means (not just the government, but consumers even more so) I fear that anything we do now will be too little too late to change where we’re going in this handbasket we’re in. The die is cast. We’re moving too fast to stop before we fall off the cliff. For too long, we’ve had more than enough of everything and yet were not satisfied. It’s been unsustainable, and so it won’t be sustained. We certainly won’t go back to the illusion of prosperity we had before the housing bubble collapsed. During the Great Depression, people learned to be grateful for having enough to live on and became more virtuous as a result. Maybe I’ll live to see that happen again.

  • Harland Nelson

    I couldn’t say better what Karl Beach posted earlier today, so I just second his comment wholeheartedly.


    Foreign aid



    They all get ZERO.. Then the USA will do just fine.


  • Gapstache

    @Steve the Cynic

    You have it so correct! Though the “broad sacrifice” to bring us back on track, will fall on those who were raised to be grateful for having the things that sustain our lives, and are usually not hungry for instant gratification.

    In respect to any federal benefits I recieve for my economic class, 64k a year for a 4 person houshold, I would be willing to give up as long as EVERYONE was sacrificing just as much for the greater good of this country. If they want to keep the whopping $1800.00 we get back claiming our two kids, and our part-time daycare, go for it!

    I do not believe that anyone preceding the baby boomers should get any cuts to their SSI or Medicare benefits. These are the folks who have sacrificed more for this country and their fellow neighbor in a decade, that we will do in our whole lifetime!

  • Andrea

    Thank you, Shane, from earlier. I agree. I am a young, middle class homeowner. Supposedly, I’m from the “me” generation, but I don’t think the government owes me anything. Go ahead and take away my homeowner’s credit. Last year, I went to Scotland and Paris with my tax refund. I don’t know that that is helping our country at all.

    Raise my taxes, while you’re at it. I don’t care. I think we can all afford to pay 1% more and live with 5% less across the board.

    Nothing should be off the table. If we freeze military pay increases, freeze or cut Social Security, all of those options that people are too afraid to go for. Cut mail service to every other day, don’t pay anyone a salary to be an elected official (since they get paid for being pundits anyway), get rid of any tax program that rewards people for having kids, buying homes, working a farm, getting married, or any other lifestyle CHOICE.

    I’m willing to pay more and live with less, are you?

  • Ann

    I don’t need to get any more info on planets (NASA.) The same is true for dinosaurs.Private companies can do this if it is important. There was a food program last summer that advertised food for kids–no income guidelines necessary. Gov’t programs need more guidelines than this. Do county programs for foster kids need to give them Christmas gifts and other gifts that cost more than what many of us spend?The library showed movies that were paid for out of the extra state tax. It is my understanding that other countries don’t pay for school sports as much as the US does. In other words, a lot of public programs could be cut back or cut out.

  • Lawrence

    Definitely the defense budget. The world may not be a safe place, but, all our military bases and the war effort in Afghanistan is bearing little fruit.

  • Arthur

    All of the Bush tax cuts!

  • Chuck

    For openers, I’d be willingly to remove subsidies paid to the mining and petroleum industries. The subsidies to large scale farmers and agri businesses.

    Prefential tax breaks for finanicial and insurance companies should also be removed.

    Tax cuts for the poor and middle class should remain, but not the ultra rich.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Regarding NASA: “Private companies can do this if it is important.”

    Really? Only profit-making ventures are “important”? If the free-market won’t make it happen, it’s not worth doing? If so, then most of what makes life worth living (art, literature, music, friendships, love, wonder, science, wisdom) don’t have any value.

  • ben

    Cut ALL subsidies to Tobacco Farmers.

    Encourage them to grow something useful.

    Also Corn Ethanal tax breaks production.

    I prefer cheaper food to cheaper gas thanks.

    Also no more private contractors doing soldiers jobs for 3 times the pay. If they still want to do the job go enlist.

  • Joel

    Cut National Endowment for the Arts.

    If its inspired, an artist will find a way to produce.

    Eliminate tuition support for non essential degrees.

    Increase ethanol subsidies so we dont have to police the Mid East.

    Let school sports be paid for by corporate sponsors, use the savings to institute mandatory Economics at the high school level.

  • Todd Wilson

    Without a doubt all support for the Terrorist Nation, Racist Nation, Israel. Why does a modern country with a massive Nuclear/Biological weapons of Mass Destruction Cache and a Human Rights voilation record second to none receive over $8Billliion of US taxpayer’s money??

  • Nate Wolf

    I could do without funding wars that began with political vendettas, religion through property tax waivers, big business that screw themselves up, and overpaid stuffed shirts, to begin with.

  • jack Goldman

    I would defund NPR, National Public Radio. NPR promotes liberal bias, liberal bigotry, liberal racism, and promotes hate toward Christians, Whites, Men, and heterosexuals. NPR’s reporting promotes fantasies like “global warming” and “global climate change”. The Earth had four ice ages and global warming when there were no machines or people around.

    I find almost ALL NPR programs biased and bigoted to promote Hebrews, Africans, Women, Gay homosexuals, Immigrants, and Minorities. This only excludes Christian, White, Male, Heterosexuals, also known as “family men”.

    MPR, Minnesota Public Radio, rarely shows this bias toward Israel and Israeli propaganda and is MUCH more educational than social transformers promoting Liberal bigotry.

    I would defund NPR which is a waste. The Liberals like Ray Kroc and his widow can fund NPR with their $300 million endowment.

    I would also default on all public pensions and cap all pensions at $3,000 per person and $6,000 per household. This includes me because I would collect on Social Security pensions. That is enough to retire on. Too many government employees have gamed the system for personal gain. I pay in and I would gladly cap this system of government pensions including Social Security.

    All people could reapply for welfare based on need, not employment. ALL government benefits should be based on need, not age, or employment favoring government employees over all others with a $3,000 cap per individual.

    I would also cut the military, which I use to keep the empire providing me with oil.

    I would also eliminate the Department of Education and Department of Energy, both of which benefit me and are tragic failures.

    I would also have all income levels pay Social Security taxes, not just the bottom 80%. We should all pay in and it should be based on need to collect.

    There are more ideas but I don’t use those other cuts I could propose. It’s a math problem, not a conservative or liberal problem. We will solve the problem. How is the question.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Excellent satire, Jack! I especially like the way you excoriate “liberals” and then write, “I would also have all income levels pay Social Security taxes, not just the bottom 80%. We should all pay in and it should be based on need to collect.”– as if redistributing wealth in that way were not a liberal idea. The scary thing is, some people actually think like that and actually believe such preposterous and logically inconsistent things.

  • This is too easy:

    1) Military expenditures that dwarf the whole world’s expenditures combined.

    2) Covert operations against perceived enemies, foreign and domestic.

    3) Cost of running the Congress, where each member spends exorbitant amounts: Compare the cost of British Members of Parliament, or any other civilized nation.

    4) Tax loopholes and giveaway sweetheart deals to corporations under the mistaken belief that unfettered free-markets are the only path to prosperity.

    5) Subsidies to industries that give them unfair market advantage over more efficient producers (oftentimes impoverishing people of other nations). Anyone smell ethanol?

    6) Yes, I’d give up the mortgage interest tax credit.

    7) I’d give up lower marginal tax rates because there’s no evidence that higher marginal tax rates stifle prosperity. Yes, I’m voting to increase my taxes.

    8) Inefficient, knee-jerk, regulations: We need strong, common sense regulatory structures. Anyone who argues against this with platitudes (that’s you my Republican and Libertarian friends) is not using their heads, or they loved the financial collapse because they profited.

    9) Privatization of intelligence and security service activities: We have way too many people on the public dole through the facade of private sector employment (yeah, you, Xe/Blackwater, KBR, Halliburton, etc.).

    10) A military pension system that rewards 20-and-out with immediate pension, health care, and other benefits, for life. (Don’t get me wrong: I respect their service, just not that much.)

    Okay, I could go on but I’m tired.

  • Kevin VC

    Not sure what I would like see go…

    But one I would like to see is end HealthCare coverage for Senators and Representatives paid for by the US Government. Also to prevent them from taking ‘free’ coverage from the industry.

    Make them aware that the US healthcare really is the 57th from the top in coverage and the #1 is only for those who can afford it and legally some how bind the insurance companies from kicking you because you suddenly need help….

    Most of the proposals seems logical that have been proposed by the groups from Obama. But the Tax break that is slated to go away needs to go away at the VERY least for those who do not need it, that being over 250K a year or more….

    Welfare for the rich needs to end.

  • Dick E

    I see that most commenters here are very willing to say what they think others should sacrifice.

    As a retiree, I would be willing to take a reduction in Social Security and Medicare. I’d also accept losing at least part of the mortgage interest deduction. In my working days, I would have approved of eliminating the tax-free status of employer-supplied medical insurance.

    None of those are simple matters; all would require some sort of phase-in. And there would have to be a careful analysis of unintended consequences. (What would happen to the housing and rental markets if homeowners lose some or all or their mortgage interest deduction and (a.) landlords are allowed to keep taking the deduction as a business expense or (b.) landlords also lose the deduction?)

  • Chris

    Making the health and retirement benefits of government employees competitive with the private sector would save hundreds of millions at the state level and billions at the federal level with no impact to services. The benefits private sector citizens get are a fraction of public…why?

  • Pam Johnson

    I would support eliminating the Flexible Health Care accounts. After 15 years of tending our family’s Flexiable Health Care spending account, I’d love to stop projecting our annual out-of-pocket health related expenses, keeping copies of numerous receipts, submitting claims, and the entire claim process. Every year what is eligible for reimbursement changes and I’m tired of managing the entire process.

  • Ron

    Far too easy … military, military, military … with the exception of supports for veterans, who have been used and tossed aside for decades. Dwight D. Eisenhower was entirely correct in his warnings about the military industrial complex.

    We could slash our military budget in half, fully fund highways, dams, airports, schools, shore up entitlements, create single payer healthcare and still have money left to pay down the debt … AND still have the largest military in the world, keeping us secure.

  • Bill A.

    I’d be fine with giving up my tax break on Mortgage interest. I find one thing realy interesting in the SSI debate. No one has brought up the idea of scraping the salary cap on people who make more than 205K. Most people don’t know that once you reach that ammount in anual salary you no longer pay INTO SSI.

  • David Poretti

    Cut the military by at least 50%

    The U.S. far outspends any other country in building it’s military – we represent over 40% of the world’s military spending.

    We don’t need sub-marines and aircraft carriers to fight terrorists hiding in remote villages, we don’t need to build weapons the Pentagon doesn’t even want.

  • Eric

    I’d start with the debt commission’s recommendations and go from there.


  • Ja, geradlinig in entbinden Jahren spart man als gut verdienender Selbständiger ungemein viel.