There is no single part of our federal budget that fully explains why the United States is now $14.6 trillion in debt.
Of course, out-of-control entitlement spending, including the addition of recent entitlements such as the Medicare prescription drug benefit and ObamaCare, is a huge part of the problem. But Washington nickels and dimes us to death, too. Besides the huge parts of the budget, there is a vast amount of wasteful, unconstitutional spending on “little things” that adds up to big debt.
For a few of the literally thousands of examples of that, we visited the website of Citizens Against Government Waste, a watchdog organization that keeps an eye on government spending. Here is a sampling of the unjustified spending that the group mentioned in news alerts over just the past few months:
n A recent funding bill directs $10 million to “Salmon Management Activities Hatcheries.” When did fish hatcheries become federal responsibilities?
n About $5 million goes to the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, whose purpose is “to find and recognize college juniors with exceptional leadership potential who are committed to careers in government, the nonprofit or advocacy sectors, education or elsewhere in the public service ... .” There are some worthwhile careers in government. But with all due respect to President Truman, why should taxpayers have to fund this scholarship program — especially when, as Citizens Against Government Waste points out, the program can support itself with its endowment funds?
n Some $40 million is going to the Department of Agriculture’s boll weevil eradication program. We are not in favor of boll weevils, but their eradication is not a federal job.
n Peanut subsidies cost taxpayers $55 million a year. We like peanuts — and almonds and cashews and pecans, too. But peanuts and the rest of our nation’s agricultural output should be supported by free consumer choice, not by subsidies. As Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, noted: “Agricultural products should be grown and sold according to free market forces, not government intervention. Enforcement of quotas, import controls, and marketing restrictions distort markets and increase the cost of food to taxpayers and consumers.”
n The United States pays more than one-fifth of the operating costs of the U.N., an organization that frequently acts contrary to our country’s interests. The U.N. is bureaucratic and sometimes downright corrupt. We could save billions of taxpayer dollars per year and promote our nation’s interests by cutting funding to the U.N.
Some will point out that these cuts would not make a large dent in our massive debt. That is clearly true.
But if Congress is not willing to cut out the relatively small, “easy” unnecessary spending, will lawmakers make really important cuts to the major items?
We have to start somewhere.