November 26, 2014

Washington Must Do More Than Just Part of the Job

  • The federal budget is an expression of our country's values. Where we choose to spend and at what levels, how and who we tax, and the borrowing we...

Although true fiscal reform will require changes throughout the federal budget, many elected officials continue to focus on only one slice of it: domestic spending programs for which Congress approves annual funding.

But cuts in this domestic “discretionary” spending can’t do the job alone, as Paul Hansen, western states regional director for The Concord Coalition, explains in a recent guest column in the Jackson Hole News & Guide.

Instead of taking a comprehensive approach, Hansen says, elected officials “keep coming back to the same places to look for more and more savings, and they never get the larger deficit-reduction job done.” Some popular programs involving what many people consider basic government functions “have been disproportionately targeted for cuts, producing inefficiencies, public frustration and poor long-term policies.”

Natural resource conservation programs, Hansen writes, provide a telling example: “The portion of the federal budget that covers all environmental and natural resource funding, called Function 300, has been cut substantially in recent decades. Thirty years ago, almost 4 percent of federal spending went to these programs. Today, this line item receives less than 1 percent, just $35 billion.”