Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Republican budgets are penny wise and pound foolish

The other day, upon hearing about the beliefs of a Republican candidate for office, a participant in the conversation observed that the candidate was a "fiscal conservative." Catherine Rampell in her Washington Post column tells us why that label is often wrong.

What you may not know is that many of [Republicans'] desired funding cuts would increase deficits in the long run.

Here’s why. You know how you’re supposed to go to the doctor for preventive care so you don’t get really sick later on? Some government spending programs serve a similar purpose. We spend a little money now to avoid much higher spending — or, alternatively, major revenue shortfalls — down the road. Unfortunately, amid their attempts to hack away at spending across the board, penny-wise-pound-foolish Republicans have not exactly protected programs that provide good returns on their investment. In fact, in some cases, Republicans have explicitly targeted these programs for elimination.

Here is a list of agencies/programs destined for cuts and the eventual costs.

  • The Internal Revenue Service: cutting IRS enforcement will cost $12 billion.
  • Family planning for low-income people and teens: every dollar cut costs $7 in savings in other social programs.
  • The 2020 Census: cutting the information technology budget will raise costs of the 2020 census.
  • Federal building maintenance, repairs and relocation to cheaper sites: slashing $1.5 billion defers maintence and results in greater costs in the future.
  • The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation: "The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the center, assuming it still exists, will reduce federal spending by about $27 billion on net over the next decade."

Politicians often like to say that they want to trim the fat, increase efficiencies and, of course, eliminate waste, fraud and abuse. Unfortunately, the Republican-led funding bills, at least in part, do the opposite of all these things.

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