Ten Guidelines for Reducing Wasteful
by Brian M. Riedl
Weary taxpayers are looking to President George
W. Bush and Congress to reduce the tax burden and set a course
toward a balanced budget. The President has already proposed a bold
plan to reduce the high tax rates currently weighing down the
economy, and an overhaul of the 44,000-page U.S. federal tax code
may also be proposed. Lower tax rates will reduce barriers to
working, saving, and investing, and therefore promote long-term
Taxing Americans less also means that Washington
must learn to spend less. Lawmakers courageously restrained spending
in the mid-1990s but have since abandoned fiscal responsibility in
favor of bloated budgets that assume there is no problem bigger
government cannot solve. For example:
Washington will spend $782 billion more from 2000 to 2003 than it
did between 1996 and 1999--an increase of $5,000 per household. (See
Charts 1 and 2.)
At more than $73,000 per household, 2000-2003 will become the
highest-spending four-year period in American history, with the
exception of World War II. (See Table 1.)
Contrary to popular opinion, new defense spending comprises just
21 percent of the $782 billion spending increase. Massive spending
increases for farm subsidies, education, health research,
unemployment benefits, and dozens of small, lower-priority programs
are collectively adding more new spending than defense.
For the first time since the earliest days of the Great Society
in the 1960s, discretionary spending is growing even faster than
These record spending increases have taken place even though the
government's net interest payments on the national debt in 2000-2003
will cost $247 billion less than they did between 1996 and 1999.
All government spending--even that financed by borrowing--must
eventually be paid for with taxes. The real cost of government
therefore is how much it spends, not how much it taxes. The lesson
is clear: Over the long run, low taxes are possible only with low
Tax reduction is not the only reason to take a fresh look at
federal spending. Many government programs harm the economy because
they centralize authority with politicians and bureaucrats in
Washington at the expense of entrepreneurs and families.
Non-deserving interests use government to secure benefits and perks
that private individuals and businesses would not otherwise provide
Time to Be Bold
Congress's last serious attempt to reduce wasteful spending
occurred in 1995 and 1996, when the 104th Congress terminated
several programs whose irrelevance was proven by how quickly they
were forgotten. But Congress then committed several strategic
errors, such as overreaching and shutting down the federal
government in 1995. After President Bill Clinton deftly exploited
theses mistakes, budget cutters overreacted to Clinton's tactics by
completely abandoning the mission of smaller government. Federal
spending subsequently skyrocketed as a paralyzed Congress decided
that budget confrontations with the Clinton White House could never
be won and should be avoided at all costs.
In 2003, reducing wasteful spending is more important than ever.
Defense, homeland security, and expensive entitlements are
stretching the federal government thin while a high tax burden is
weighing down the economy. Yet, although President Clinton is no
longer in office and budget-cutting strategies have improved,
Congress and (albeit to a lesser extent) President Bush still
maintain a reflexive fear of attacking wasteful spending.
It is time to step back and think about the role of government,
the obligations of the private sector, and the delineation between
federal and state responsibilities. For those interested in lean,
effective government with low taxes, here are 10 guidelines to
eliminate wasteful spending:
1. Build a constituency for limited government and
are always ready to defend their special-interest subsidies. But
taxpayers rarely fight this wasteful spending because they do not
believe they will ever see the savings. Policymakers can organize
taxpayers in opposition to wasteful spending by linking specific
reforms and spending reductions to specific tax cuts, such as
corporate welfare and use the savings for capital gains and
business tax cuts;
outdated and duplicative programs and use the savings to reduce
income taxes across the board;
federal corporations by offering current public employees stock
options at below-market prices;
air traffic control duties and privatize airports, targeting the
savings to airline security; and
programs to states while alleviating federal mandates and
reducing federal taxes.
Congress should create an independent commission that would
present Congress with a list of all duplicative, wasteful,
outdated, and failed programs that should be eliminated--and
earmark all savings to an immediate across-the-board income tax
The legislation would not be amendable, so members could not
preserve their own special-interest programs. This is how the
federal government handled military base closings in the 1990s.
When faced with the clear decision between funding outdated
government programs and reducing the tax burden, most taxpayers
will encourage their representatives to let them keep more of
their own money.
2. Turn local programs back to the states
Only the federal government can handle national defense,
international relations, and the administration of federal laws. But
why should politicians in Washington decide what roads are built in
Appleton, Wisconsin? Or what community development projects are
undertaken in St. Louis, Missouri? Or how education dollars are
spent in Cheyenne, Wyoming?
The federal government taxes families, subtracts a hefty
administrative cost, and then sends the remaining tax revenues back
to the state and local governments--with specific rules dictating
how they may and may not spend the money. In that sense, the federal
government is merely an expensive middleman, contributing little
more than meddling mandates that constrain the flexibility that
state and local governments need to address their own issues
No distant bureaucrat in Washington, D.C., can know what policies
are best for every state and locality. One-size-fits-all federal
mandates rarely succeed as well as flexible programs designed by
state and local officials who are closer to the people affected.
Moreover, legislators have little incentive to design programs that
work beyond their home constituencies.
State and local governments, which often consider federal grants
"free money," also lack sufficient incentives to spend this money
well because they did not have to extract the taxes themselves (many
seem to forget the high federal taxes that local residents paid for
this "free money"). Consequently, local officials rarely object to
federal grants for unnecessary projects.
Few local governments, for example, would consider taxing their
own residents to fund the following pork-barrel projects found in
the 2003 federal budget:
- $82,500 for Hawaiian Monk Seals;
- $489,000 for swine waste management in North Carolina;
- $661,000 for Alaskan Groundfish Surveys;
- $225,000 for hoop barns in Iowa;
- $750,000 for Walla Walla basin habitat; and
- $400,000 to create an urban village at the Asian Pacific
Community Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.
- These projects merely build on the $20 billion spent on more
than 8,000 similar programs in fiscal year 2002, including:
- $273,000 to help Blue Springs, Missouri, combat teenage "Goth
- $1,500,000 for a statue of the Roman god Vulcan in Birmingham,
- $1,000,000 for an "Intelligent Transportation" grant for
Moscow, Idaho--population 22,000;
- $50,000 to fund a tattoo removal program in San Luis Obispo
- $26,000 to study how thoroughly Americans rinse their dishes;
- $4,572 to Las Vegas Helicopters (LVH), which performs airborne
weddings officiated by Elvis Presley impersonators, as part of the
post-September 11 package of aid to airlines.
The federal government can promote accountability, flexibility,
and local control by eliminating many of the mandates on how state
and local governments address their own issues, and by letting them
raise their own revenues and create their own programs without
meddling from Washington, D.C. Specifically, Congress should:
- Turn back the federal gas tax,
as well as all federal highway and mass transit spending, to the
- Devolve federal housing
programs to state and local governments and cut federal strings on
how the programs are operated;
- Transfer economic development
programs, such as Community Development Block Grants, Appalachian
Regional Commission, Denali Commission, and Tennessee Valley
Authority, back to the regions that best know how to address their
- Send job training programs
back to the states;
- Devolve Bureau of Reclamation
and Army Corps of Engineers projects to state and regional
- Allow states flexibility and
control over their own education programs;
- Send the Superfund program to
the states and allow local flexibility in deciding how to clean
- Turn back law enforcement
grant programs to the states;
- Devolve the Natural Resources
Conservation Service to the states;
- Transfer the Institute of
Museum Services and Library Sciences to the states;
- Send the Neighborhood
Reinvestment Corporation to the cities it affects; and
- Eliminate the practice of
earmarking federal funds for local projects.
3. Privatize activities that could be performed
better by the private sector
Over the past two decades, nations across the globe have reaped
the benefits of privatization, which empowers the private sector to
carry out functions that had been performed by the government. In
the 1980s, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher saved taxpayers
billions of dollars and improved the British economy by privatizing
utilities, telecommunications, and airports. More recently, the
former Soviet Union and China have seen the promise of
privatization. The United States, however, has been
uncharacteristically timid in recent years.
There is little economic justification for the government's
running businesses that the private sector can run itself. Even when
there is a compelling reason for government to regulate or subsidize
businesses, it can do so without seizing ownership of them.
Government failures are often larger than market failures; and
anyone who has dealt with the post office, lived in public housing,
or visited the local Department of Motor Vehicles understands how
wasteful, inefficient, and unresponsive government can be.
Furthermore, government ownership crowds out private companies
and encourages protected entities to take unnecessary risks. After
promising profits, government-owned businesses frequently lose
billions of dollars--and leave the taxpayers to foot the bill.
Entrenched opposition to privatization, which comes mostly from
interest groups representing government monopolies, has been
overcome elsewhere by (1) working with government unions and
relevant interest groups to design privatization proposals; (2)
offering low-cost stock options to current employees; and (3)
assuring a transparent, open bidding process.
Candidates for privatization are numerous. Congress
- Sell the
remaining Power Marketing Administrations through a stock
Privatize-commercialize Air Traffic Control operations
and fund with user fees;
airport grants and privatize airports;
energy conservation research and development to the private
that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting fully fund itself as
all other television networks do;
the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation;
government agencies to accept bids on government printing jobs
instead of having to use the Government Printing Office (GPO);
the debt-ridden United States Postal Service through an employee
stock option plan;
- Shift the
National Agricultural Statistics Service to the private sector;
Amtrak through a stock offering;
Aerospace Technology Research and Development;
- Sell many
of the federal government's 1,200 civilian aircraft and 380,000
non-tactical, non-postal vehicles;
- Shift the
Energy Information Agency's duties to the private sector; and
the Architect of the Capitol.
Government-owned enterprises are not the only
candidates for privatization. In 2001, taxpayers were on the hook
for the federal government's $242 billion in outstanding direct
loans and $1,084 billion in outstanding guaranteed loans. Government
loans typically undercut the financial services industry, which has
sufficient resources to provide loans to businesses and individuals.
Even worse, government often serves as a lender of
last resort to organizations that private banks do not consider
qualified for loans, and the low-cost nature of government loans
encourages recipients to take unnecessary risks with their federal
dollars. Consequently, a high percentage of federal loans are in
default, and taxpayers were saddled with $20 billion in direct loan
write-offs and guaranteed loan terminations in 2001.
Therefore, Congress should:
- Begin selling
government direct loan programs and create new loan guarantees for
agencies such as those of the Rural Utilities Service, Small
Business Administration, Export-Import Bank, and Rural Housing
4. Terminate irrelevant
programs and reform wasteful programs
President Ronald Reagan once pointed out that "a
government bureau is the closest thing to eternal life we'll ever
see on earth." A large portion of the current federal bureaucracy
was created during the 1900s, 1930s, and 1960s in attempts to solve
the unique problems of those eras.
Instead of replacing the outdated programs of the
past, however, each period of government activism has layered new
programs on top of them. Ford Motor Company would not waste money
today by building outdated Model T's alongside their current
Mustangs and Explorers. Yet in 2003, the federal government still
refuses to close down old agencies such as the Rural Utilities
Service (designed to bring phones to rural America) and the U.S.
Geological Survey (created to explore and detail the nation's
Government must be made light and flexible,
adaptable to the new challenges the country will face in the 21st
century. Weeding out the failed and outdated bureaucracies of the
past will free resources to modernize the government.
Status Quo Bias
Lawmakers often acknowledge that certain programs show no
positive effects. Unfortunately, they also refuse to terminate even
the most irrelevant programs. The most obvious reason for this
timidity is a cautious aversion to fighting the special interests
that refuse to let their pet programs end without a bloody fight.
A less obvious reason is that eliminating government
programs seems reckless and bold to legislators who have never known
of a federal government without them. Although thousands of programs
have come and gone in the nation's 227-year history, virtually all
current programs were created before most lawmakers came to
Washington. For legislators budgeting and implementing the same
familiar programs year after year, a sense of permanency sets in,
and termination seems unfathomable.
No one even remembers when a non-government entity addressed the
The Department of Energy has existed for just
one-tenth of the nation's history, yet closing it down seems
ridiculous to those who cannot remember the federal government
before 1977 and for whom appropriating and overseeing the department
has been an annual ritual for years. Lawmakers need a long-term
perspective to assure them the sky does not fall when a program gets
terminated. For example, the Bureau of Mines and the U.S. Travel and
Tourism Administration, both closed in 1996, are barely remembered
Instead of just assuming that whoever created the
programs decades ago must have been filling some important need that
probably exists today, lawmakers should focus on the future by
asking themselves the following question: "If this program did not
exist, would I vote to create it?" Because the answer for scores of
programs would likely be "no," Congress should:
the U.S. Geological Survey;
the Maritime Administration;
the International Trade Commission;
the Economic Development Administration;
Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program;
the Rural Utilities Service; and
480's non-emergency international food programs.
programs that should never have been created in the first place.
the Conservation Reserve Program;
the Commission of Fine Arts;
Historic Whaling and Trading Partners Exchange Program;
the Office of Navajo and Hopi Relocation;
National Endowment for the Humanities;
the Marine Mammal Commission;
the East-West Center;
the Legal Services Corporation;
protectionist programs of the International Trade Administration;
State Justice Institute;
the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science;
the U.S. Institute of Peace;
National Endowment for the Arts; and
most of the 945 federal advisory committees and commissions spread
across 52 agencies.
- Close down failed
and outdated agencies and programs.
Congress must also provide stronger financial
management oversight for federal programs, which are losing billions
of dollars every year from mismanagement. The following examples of
inexcusable waste make a convincing case for reform:
The U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO)
refuses to certify the federal government's own accounting books
because the bookkeeping is so poor.
Twenty-one of the 26 departments and major
agencies received the lowest possible rating for their financial
management, meaning that auditors cannot even express an opinion
on their financial statements.
The Medicare program pays as much as eight
times the cost that other federal agencies pay for the same drugs
and medical supplies.
The federal government made $20 billion in
overpayments in 2001.
Medicare overpayments totaled $12.1 billion
The Department of Housing and Urban
Development's $3.3 billion in overpayments in 2001 accounted for
over 10 percent of the department's total budget.
The food stamp program pays approximately
$1.3 billion per year in overpayments.
The Department of Agriculture recently was
unable to account for $5 billion in receipts and expenditures.
The Internal Revenue Service does not even
know how much it collects in payroll taxes.
Congressional investigators were able to
receive $55,000 in federal student loan funding for a fictional
college they created to test the U.S. Department of Education.
The Army Corps of Engineers has been accused
of illegally manipulating data to justify expensive but
unnecessary public works projects.
Over one recent 18-month period, Air Force
and Navy personnel used government-funded credit cards to charge
at least $102,400 for admission to entertainment events, $48,250
for gambling, $69,300 for cruises, and $73,950 for exotic dance
clubs and prostitutes.
- The federal government cannot account for
$17.3 billion spent in 2001.
5. Terminate corporate
welfare and other mistargeted programs
There is no justification for taxing waitresses
and welders to subsidize Fortune 500 CEOs. Mistargeted programs,
such as $85 billion in annual corporate welfare spending, come in
many forms--direct payments, low-cost loans or insurance,
subsidized services--but they all provide these services to
special interests that are neither entitled to nor in need of such
These programs harm the economy. Operating
subsidies and loans to private businesses overtax productive
sectors of the economy and redistribute that money to less
productive sectors, based on the fallacy that it will somehow
create jobs. Programs subsidizing start-up companies represent a
misguided attempt by government to pick the market's winners and
In addition, research subsidies for profit-seeking
businesses (which already have an incentive to fund their own
profitable research) merely displace private research funding with
taxpayer funds; and emergency grant and loan programs encourage
businesses to take irrational risks with the assurance that
taxpayers will cover any losses. Congress therefore should:
subsidies, three-quarters of which go to the wealthiest 10
percent of farms;
the Minority Business Development Agency;
the Small Business Administration;
the Overseas Private Investment Corporation;
the Trade and Development Agency;
the Market Access Program;
the Export-Import Bank;
the Davis-Bacon and Service Contract Acts; and
the Essential Air Service Program.
funding research that directly benefits private industry.
the Advanced Technology Program;
Manufacturing Extension Partnerships;
the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service;
the Agricultural Research Service; and
Department of Energy research grants that displace private
user fees that recover all the costs of programs with
farmers to pay a larger portion of their crop insurance
flood insurance premiums on repeatedly flooded lands; and
user fees on commodity futures and options contract transactions
and use the money to help finance the Commodity Futures Trading
programs unfairly targeted to the wrong recipients.
federal housing assistance to those with the greatest need;
providing substantially more federal aid to Howard University
than other private universities;
Congress's franking privilege to non-election years to prevent
taxpayer funding of campaign mailings; and
parent income of school lunch recipients, as 20 percent of
current school lunch participants are ineligible due to high
- Eliminate direct
corporate welfare payments.
6. Consolidate duplicative
and contradictory programs
Government's layering of new programs on top of
old ones inherently creates duplication. Having several agencies
perform similar duties creates administrative waste and confuses
program beneficiaries who must navigate each program's distinct
rules and requirements.
A small degree of overlap is inevitable. Some
agencies are defined by whom they serve (veterans, Native
Americans, urbanites, rural families), while others are defined by
what they provide (housing, education, health care, economic
development). So when these agencies' constituencies overlap, as
they do in veterans housing or rural economic development, each
relevant agency will often have its own program. With 342 separate
economic development programs, the federal government needs to
make consolidation a priority.
Consolidating duplicative programs will save money
and improve government service. Merging related block grants will
give states better flexibility to target their funds. The new
Department of Homeland Security provides one example of a
successful consolidation of separate agencies and programs. A
recently announced consolidation of the 22 different federal
payroll systems into just two will save $1.2 billion over the next
decade. At the state level, governors such as Virginia's Mark
Warner are proposing consolidations that will save hundreds of
millions of dollars.
Except for those that should be eliminated
altogether, Congress should consolidate the following sets of
programs serving the disabled;
programs serving at-risk youth;
childhood development programs;
programs funding international education, cultural, and training
federal programs dedicated to assuring safe water;
homeless assistance programs;
federal agencies conducting federal criminal investigations;
separate employment and training programs;
small, extraneous K-12 school grant programs;
agencies providing aid to the former Soviet Union;
programs fighting substance abuse;
agencies monitoring 400 international trade agreements;
principal statistics agencies; and
overlapping land management agencies.
economic development programs;
7. Convert several remaining
programs into vouchers
Government programs should not be bloated
bureaucracies shepherding recipients into one-size-fits-all
programs. Voucher programs, which allow individuals to purchase
goods and services on the open market rather than receiving them
from the government, have two distinct advantages:
Instead of having to take what a bureaucracy gives
them, vouchers allow program recipients to shop around and find
the goods and services that fit their needs.
Providing health insurance or housing vouchers is much
less costly to government than the construction and maintenance
of government-owned housing or hospitals. Competition among
private firms for vouchers will bring about lower prices than
Some policymakers believe that low-income
individuals cannot be trusted to make intelligent economic
decisions with their vouchers, implying condescendingly that
government employees know best how to run the lives of poor
families. Those worrying that private markets could not
accommodate the influx of voucher-wielding families fail to
recognize that vouchers create markets by strengthening demand and
thereby inducing new supply.
Food stamps provide the model for a successful
Instead of building a bureaucracy to grow and distribute
government food to low-income families, the program simply
provides families with vouchers to purchase food themselves.
Housing vouchers that subsidize private rent costs have proven
better for low-income families than dilapidated, dangerous public
housing. Most child-care programs subsidize the private facilities
parents choose instead of forcing them into government-fun
facilities. Federal student loan programs exist as a type of
Vouchers can provide choice without bureaucracy in
many other areas. Medicare and Medicaid could be made more like
the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), in which
federal employees choose between competing private health plans
with the federal government subsidizing the premium. Congress
could provide school vouchers to families in Washington, D.C. More
public housing programs can be replaced with rent vouchers.
8. Terminate programs rather
than trimming them or phasing them out
Budget cutters often commit the tactical error of
settling for small reductions or lengthy phase-outs of obsolete
programs instead of immediately terminating them. They mistakenly
believe that securing small program reductions now will allow them
to come back and cut the program more next time.
But leaving obsolete programs in place simply
creates an opportunity for future Congresses to restore funding.
Furthermore, retaining the programs leaves the bureaucracy in
place and allows it to enlist interest groups in a
counteroffensive against spending reductions. The old line that
"those attacking the throne had better kill the king on the first
shot" applies to government programs as well.
In the 1980s, President Reagan successfully
terminated only 12 of the 94 programs he proposed eliminating.
Congress would often block the terminations by negotiating slight
reductions and lengthy phase-outs, waiting a few years for the
President's focus to shift elsewhere and then restoring the
programs to their original funding.
Similarly, members of the 104th Congress who proposed ending
federal subsidies to programs such as
AmeriCorps and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting were
persuaded to settle for slight spending reductions and a promise
to cut more later--and the budgets of those programs have since
rebounded to all-time highs.
One must never assume that spending reductions
today will be followed up with additional reductions later.
Retaining a program means retaining a bureaucracy dedicated to
self-preservation, interest groups dedicated to aiding the
bureaucracy, and a budget line item that Congress can easily
attach a larger number to next year.
9. Utilize the "ideas
industry" for specific proposals
Those seeking specific proposals to reduce
wasteful spending have several options available:
The General Accounting Office conducts
hundreds of studies each year on wasteful and under-performing
federal programs. The GAO also often releases a "Budgetary
Implications of Selected GAO Work" for the current fiscal year,
which is a book similar to CBO's "Budget Options," detailing
hundreds of specific, implementable ways to reduce waste.
The Government Performance and Results Act
(GPRA) requires that agencies lay out specific multi-year goals
to improve performance and reduce waste, and to report regularly
on their progress toward these goals. Together with Inspector
General (IG) reports, GPRA reports show Congress which programs
are failing in their missions.
Think tanks such as The Heritage
Foundation, the Cato Institute, and Citizens Against Government
Waste release hundreds of studies each year showing how to save
- The Congressional Budget Office (CBO)
periodically releases a "Budget Options" book containing more
than 200 specific reforms that would reduce more than $100
billion in wasteful spending, complete with justifications and
The President should try to eliminate wasteful
programs in his budget. Legislators should also examine every line
item in the President's budget appendix and terminate programs
lacking sufficient explanations or justifications.
10. Remove procedural
barriers to saving taxpayer dollars
The federal budget process contains several
procedural biases that make it difficult to restrain spending.
Congress can create an environment conducive to fiscal
responsibility if it will:
spending into the appropriations process
- Allow trade-offs
between mandatory and discretionary spending
PAYGO rules that cover mandatory spending and tax
legislation forbid any trade-offs with discretionary spending.
Thus, Congress is forbidden from financing tax cuts through
discretionary spending reductions, or even transferring money
across mandatory and discretionary programs. These restrictions
unnecessarily tie the hands of Congress and make it more
difficult to reduce wasteful spending. After PAYGO's temporary
Senate renewal expires in April, Congress should create a new
system of budget caps that incorporates both discretionary and
mandatory spending and allows all trade-offs.
Only the one-third of spending that is classified as
discretionary is subject to the appropriations process every
year. The two-thirds classified as mandatory is left to grow
uncontrollably from year to year without regular oversight.
Thus, the budget process denies legislators an opportunity to
set annual spending and tax priorities with all programs on the
congressional votes to block rescissions
Presidential rescission requests, which would cancel
previously appropriated budget authority, must be approved by
both the House and Senate to take effect. Congress can block
rescissions either by voting them down or by refusing to
schedule a vote on them all. A positive reform would require
Members of Congress actually to vote down the rescissions they
oppose. Rescission proposals not voted down by at least one full
body of Congress within 45 days would go forward. Supporters of
questionable spending would no longer be able to avoid going on
the public record with their position.
This accounting method adjusts for inflation, new
enrollees, and increased benefits when projecting future program
costs and then defines a "cut" as any spending increase that
does not incorporate all of those expenses. If a program's
baseline calls for a 10 percent spending increase, lawmakers
voting for increases as high as 9 percent are accused of cutting
the program's budget. Smaller increases may not satisfy the
spending appetites of some, but they are not cuts. Lawmakers
should not have the bar raised to a level where they must vote
for massive increases to avoid the impression of cutting.
Shifting expenditures from the last day of one fiscal
year to the first day of the next creates an illusion of fiscal
discipline, not any real relief. Moving programs off budget,
enacting advanced appropriations, and labeling regular spending
as "emergency" to circumvent budget rules all keep government
bloated and taxes high. Long-term budget blueprints that delay
most spending reductions until the final years should be viewed
Difficult times present opportunities for leaders
to chart a new course. During World War II, President Franklin
Roosevelt reduced non-defense spending by 36 percent to save
resources. Policymakers funded the Korean War by immediately
reducing non-defense spending by 25 percent.
In 2003, defense, homeland security, and expanding
entitlements are placing enormous demands on taxpayers and on the
economy. Congress and the President should seize this opportunity
to refocus the federal government on the programs that matter
most. In the end, a government that attempts to do everything will
do nothing well.
Brian M. Riedl is Grover M. Hermann Fellow in Federal
Budgetary Affairs in the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic
Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation.