Cutting the Budget
As a consequence of my Levin blogging and other posts, I’ve had folks email to ask me if there’s anything I’d cut from the budget to reduce costs. That’s a fair question. I don’t have a lot of time to delve into details, but here’s a few things off the top of my head on the federal level:
- All subsidies to business, period. Whether they be farm subsidies, corporate subsidies, or what have you.
- End the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And by end, I don’t mean “end combat operations” but leave tens of thousandas of troops in theater. I mean end.
- Phase out half of the defense budget over the next ten years. By ending most troop deployments abroad and refocusing the American military mission on defense, rather than force projection.
- End prison time for non-violent offenders. Replace prison with probation, work programs, community service, etc. Mark Kleiman has some excellent reform suggestions along these lines.
- Legalize most drugs.
- End most tax subsidies. Including, but not limited to, the mortgage interest deduction, homebuyer credits, etc.
- Given the unsustainability of health care costs, I also think that the Federal government needs to step in onto the regulatory field and usurp some power from the states. Namely, medical licenses should be federalized, so health care professionals can work in any state once they have a federal license. Licensing restrictions should be liberalized — for example, dental hygenists should be able to open their own shops for the purposes of routine teeth cleaning, and nurse practitioners should be able to open clinics for minor ailments and injuries that don’t require a doctor. And all of these rules should be federalized. The state hodgepodge that we have only cartelizes the health care industry. The rules need to be centralized and liberalized. I’m pretty sure this will result in lower costs for routine and preventative care, which will lead to lower long-term costs. I have other ideas along the lines of regulatory reform, as well, but that’s probably the major one.
Like I said, this is the stuff just off the top of my head. I’m sure there’s more. And in fairness, there are also places I think that the federal government should be taking advantage of low interest rates to spend more on, particularly in the realm of infrastructure. But overall, there’s a lot of fat that can be trimmed.