Taxpayers for Common Sense's $2 Trillion Plan to Avoid the Sequester

Yesterday the group Taxpayers for Common Sense released a report with over $2 trillion in deficit reduction. The report, "Sliding Past the Sequester," takes up the task of the Super Committee and puts forth a list of cuts to programs or measures that they deem are "inefficient, ineffective, or wasteful," adding up to $800 billion beyond the Super Committee's original requirement.

"Sliding Past the Sequestration" Savings (in billions)
  2013 2013-2022
Agriculture $11.8 $126.6
Energy $12.8 $123.2
General Government $0.1 $0.6
Infrastructure $0.5 $5.3
National Security $64.2 $672.5
Public Lands $17.3 $18.3
Tax Expenditures $60.2 $946.0
Transportation $11.4 $187.5
Total Savings

Source: Taxpayers for Common Sense

The savings measures are widespread. Spending cuts include eliminating commodity crop subsidies, cutting Pentagon service contract spending by 15 percent, and eliminating the B and C models of the F-35. Revenue raisers come from tax expenditures such as reducing the amount of mortgage interest eligible for deduction and repealing the use of last-in first-out (LIFO) accounting. Nearly half of the report's savings comes in the form of tax expenditures, while the rest is from spending cuts.

The report shows that if politicians are willing to put everything on the table and make tough decisions, there are many parts of the budget where we could be spending more efficiently. If anything, it is a clear example of the opportunities missed by the across-the-board cuts under sequestration. As the report notes:

Instead of being fiscal cliff jumpers, Congress can dive into the hard work of cutting spending, finding revenue, and reforming entitlements to turn the country’s fiscal situation around. All these common sense cuts are possible if Congress and the President choose to put the country ahead of partisanship or parochial pandering.

Sequestration is bad. It would cut the good along with the bad, the effective and the wasteful. It is irresponsible. But it is clear who is responsible for it – Congress and the President. Not one, not the other, but both. And that’s who is going to have to be responsible for defusing the ticking budget time bomb that would cut $1.2 trillion indiscriminately.

Ultimately, we are going to need a bigger comphrensive deal than these $2 trillion if we are going to stabilize the debt and put it on a downward path as a share of the economy. But with a plan that is phased in slowly and addresses all parts of the budget, we can minimize the negative effects and realign our budget to be more efficient and effective in achieving its goals.

The full report can be found here.