Taxpayers could save over $3 trillion by eliminating wasteful and inefficient programs and unfair subsidies, according to a new report from a watchdog group.
Citizens Against Government Waste released its annual Prime Cuts report Wednesday, recommending 600 ways to reduce spending with savings of $429.8 billion the first year and $3.1 trillion over five years.
"Even in the ‘Drain the Swamp' era, the national debt of the United States first exceeded $21 trillion in 2018 and is poised to rise substantially in the coming years," the report begins. "To help chart a path out of this calamitous hole, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) is releasing Prime Cuts 2018, a comprehensive account of options the federal government possesses to cut into the ballooning debt."
The group said cutting Medicare improper payments just in half could save $18.1 billion. Other recommendations include ending subsidies for Amtrak to save taxpayers nearly $10 billion over five years, and ending sugar, dairy, and peanut subsidies.
"As the U.S. budget hurdles toward trillion-dollar deficits and with the national debt exceeding $21 trillion, Prime Cuts 2018 is needed now, more than ever," said Tom Schatz, the president of CAGW. "The only way to put our country on a path toward fiscal sanity is for leaders to make bold decisions to reduce waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement; and Prime Cuts 2018 is an invaluable resource for them to achieve that objective."
Many items are in line with recommendations for spending cuts made by the Trump administration, such as eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Cutting the arts agencies would save taxpayers $1.8 billion over five years, the group said.
Numerous recommendations relate to redundant agencies and outdated federal programs that have lingered for decades beyond their initial purpose. Ending New Deal era programs, such as privatizing parts of the Tennessee Valley Authority, could save up to $1.1 billion over five years.
The group proposes eliminating Community Development Block Grants, which would save $15 billion over five years, arguing the program is unaccountable and inefficient. The program, intended for job creation and infrastructure in urban areas, does not "take a community's average income into account."
"As a result, several very wealthy cities with robust tax bases, such as Greenwich, Connecticut, have received CDBG dollars," the report said.
"Buffalo, New York, has received more than $500 million in CDBGs over the last 30 years, with little to show for it, and Los Angeles handed out $24 million to a dairy that went bust 18 months later," the report added.
Suspending federal land purchases would save taxpayers $466 million the first year and $2.3 billion over five years. CAGW argues the government owns more federal land than it can handle.
"The federal government currently owns roughly one-third of all U.S. land, including more than 80 percent of Alaska and Nevada and more than half of Idaho, Oregon, and Utah," the report said.
The group cited a Congressional Research Service report released this summer finding the National Park Service has $11.6 billion worth of necessary repairs and infrastructure work on federal land waiting to be completed.