Originally published in Institute for Policy Studies.
An overhaul of U.S. spending priorities is both long overdue and necessary to curb deficit growth. Yet there is no reason to accept the demands from conservative leaders and corporate lobbyists for the ill-timed belt-tightening and reductions in earned benefits like Social Security and Medicare they say are required to remedy the current budgetary crisis.
This “fiscal cliff” hysteria could easily trigger a grand fiscal swindle. But it doesn’t have to — because we’re not broke. The U.S. government can continue to fund and even expand programs that help people in need and rebuild our infrastructure while greening the economy, strengthening national security, and reducing the economic inequality that’s eating away at our democracy. Plenty of smart ways to cut spending and increase revenue should be “on the table.” Our report outlines 20 straightforward and creative options.
This is the second edition of an Institute for Policy Studies study that debunks the premise that the United States of America is broke. We released the first one a year ago, shortly before the supercommittee — a congressional panel tasked with putting our nation on a sound fiscal path — fizzled into obscurity.
This time around, the frenzied “Taxmaggedon” debate poses an unprecedented opportunity to harness our ample but misdirected resources in ways that will make the country more equitable, secure, and green. We have amassed a list of possible revenue-raisers and spending cuts to demonstrate that there are commonsense ways to shrink the deficit and get our country on a more sustainable path.
Our proposed reforms amount to $881 billion in potential new revenue and savings per year. These measures would eliminate most of the budget deficit, leave plenty of resources for jobs and for the nation’s pressing human and environmental needs, and stave off those looming across-the-board cuts. We have not assembled an exhaustive list of rational budget-cutting alternatives. But we have demonstrated that there are sensible ways to achieve a more sustainable budget without shredding our already threadbare safety net. Together, these measures would generate more than enough savings to prevent a harmful shift toward austerity.