If Congress were to cut unnecessary and ineffective spending in the federal government, it could balance the budget in one year by following the recommendations put forth by Citizens Against Government Waste, a non-partisan organization.
The report, titled "Prime Cuts 2016," outlines 618 recommendations to cut wasteful government spending that would not only balance the budget within one year but would save taxpayers $644.1 billion in the first year and $2.6 trillion over five years.
The group finds wasteful spending in nearly every agency of the federal government including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Labor Department, the Treasury, Housing and Urban Development, the Justice Department, and the Department of Commerce.
At the Department of Health and Human Services, if Congress were to reduce improper Medicare payments by 50 percent in five years, the department could save taxpayers $4.3 billion in just one year.
"Medicare is plagued with the highest reported amount of improper payments of any federal program," the report states. "Because of its chronic vulnerability to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement, the [Government Accountability Office] has for 20 years designated the Medicare program as ‘high risk.’"
At the Department of Transportation, if Congress were to eliminate federal subsidies for Amtrak, taxpayers could save $1.4 billion in one year and $7.1 billion in five years. Amtrak has been in business for 45 years and has cost taxpayers more than $40 billion.
At the Enviornmental Protection Agency, if Congress were to eliminate the ENERGY STAR program, which is a labeling program to identify energy-efficient products, it could save taxpayers $52 million in just one year. According to the Government Accountability Office, an audit found that 20 phony products were submitted for certification, and of those, 15 were cleared.
"Other recommendations include privatizing the fiscally endangered United States Postal Service (USPS), which lost $5.1 billion last year; eliminating the Market Access Program, which would save $1 billion over five years; eliminating sugar, dairy, and peanut subsidies, which would save a combined $12 billion over five years; replacing the $1 bill with a $1 coin, which would save $730 million over five years; preventing the Federal Communications Commission from increasing regulations on the Internet; and, increasing the use of software asset management," according to a press release from Citizens Against Government Waste.
"By following the blueprint provided by Prime Cuts 2016, wasteful government spending can be eliminated, the U.S. can achieve the first balanced budget since fiscal year 1998, and the nation can begin to lower the fiscally calamitous national debt," said Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste. "Prime Cuts 2016 is essential reading for taxpayers, the media, legislators, and candidates alike."