By Alden L. Benton
Earlier this year, in a deal reached to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, Congress formed a “super committee” tasked with finding ways to cut $1.2 trillion dollars from the federal budget. As expected, this effort ended in abject failure.
More than a trillion dollars (that is a one followed by 12 zeroes) sounds like a lot of money, and it is. However, the super committee was supposed to find these savings over a 10-year period, thereby limiting budget cuts to $120 billion a year: A lot of money, but chump-change to Congressional spendthrifts.
Congress is the master of obfuscation. They cannot find a direct solution to any problem unless the answer is of some benefit to them.
Enter Occam’s razor. Occam’s razor, put simply, states that if you have two equally likely solutions to a problem, choose the simplest.
Choose the simplest!
Therefore, the question now becomes what is the simplest way to cut $120 billion a year from the belly of the federal beast.
The answer from the super committee was, it’s impossible. The opposing political parties are inclined to small cuts from everything, as long as it isn’t from one of their pet pork projects. They all miss the meaning of simplicity inherent in Occam’s razor.
The Occam solution, a solution favored by fiscal conservatives and libertarians, is to start eliminating federal agencies and departments that have grown beyond their usefulness and swallow up too many of our hard-earned tax dollars.
The way to cut the federal deficit, and thus lower the amount of money we borrow and pay interest upon, is to start shrinking the government.
We don’t have a revenue problem. The federal government collected $2.11 trillion in revenues for fiscal year 2009, but spent $3.2 trillion creating a $1.41 trillion deficit (money we must borrow and pay interest on) for just a single year of spending.
In the unlikely event things stay constant, that deficit would grow by more than $14 trillion in 10 years. Obviously, the super committee’s unattained goal of cutting $1.2 trillion in 10 years was a sham concocted to deceive us into thinking they were serious about deficit reduction.
If we follow just two of the Cato/Downsizing Government recommendations, we would save far more than if the super committee had succeeded in their efforts.
Let’s start by downsizing the Agriculture Department. According to Downsizing Government, the savings would be $131 billion a year. Over 10 years, this one recommendation saves more than $1.3 trillion. (Details of plan to downsize the Department of Agriculture.)
My second target would be the Department of Education. The Cato/Downsizing Government recommendation is to eliminate the Department of Education and its $106.9 billion annual budget. Ten-year savings: $1.1 trillion. (Details of plan to eliminate the Department of Education.)
We can save more than $2.4 trillion over the next 10 years by downsizing or eliminating just two of myriad federal bureaucracies. The simplicity of Occam’s razor in action (the Cato/Downsizing Government recommendations) exposes the sham of the super committee.
Congress should just go home until January, 2013. They can do no more damage if they are not in session. This way, a fed-up electorate can institute a regime change through the 2012 election process and start fresh without the excess baggage from the 112th Congress.
Message to Congress: Simplicity is good, but sometimes doing nothing is best.
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