Solving the Budget Deficit like Kevin Kline

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Remember the movie Dave? The one where Kevin Kline plays a community activist who happens to look a lot like the sitting president.  In fact, he looks so much like him that he ends up being tapped to fill in for a while when the president suffers a massive stroke.

In one particularly memorable scene, Dave convenes his cabinet and with the goal of finding enough money in the federal budget to stave off cuts to a homeless program.  With a series of “well, duh” cuts to ridiculous government programs that seem to be nothing more than giveaways to the wealthy, the $650 million he needs for the homeless is secured.

Well, Hale Stewart at Huffington Post makes some of those same “well, duh” suggestions for getting rid of the budget deficit:

All that being said, what do I advocate doing.

1.) Get us the hell out of Iraq. That’s at least $150 billion a year and probably more.

2.) Let the Bush tax cuts expire. According to the Tax Policy Center, 57.6% of the 2001 – 2003 changes in tax law went to people with incomes over $100,000. At that level of the game, they can take care of themselves. The expiration will happen naturally because of the built-in sunset provisions. I have not seen an estimate of the amount of money this will bring into the Federal government. Let’s be conservative and say an addition $150 billion year. That means between an expiration of the tax cuts and getting out of Iraq we’ve got $300 billion in savings.

That means we’ve got $200 billion more to go. I would advocate at least another $100 billion from the Pentagon. They’ve had a nice run of budget increases, but enough is enough. In addition, there have been several studies that say the Pentagon’s accounting system is, well, terrible. That means all the increases we’ve seen in spending probably mean a ton of graft and corruption that needs to be investigated thoroughly.

So, now we’ve got an additional $100 billion. Frankly, if we get $400 billion in savings we’ll be heroes. That would be enough from the markets perspective. If you want to get the extra $100 billion, I think there are plenty of places to get it from.

None of this is especially groundbreaking.  And Stewart concludes by warning about the steep increases in spending on mandatory budget items like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  That’s only going to get worse before it gets better.  But for now, if we can get a handle on the discretionary part of the budget, we’ll have won a major battle.

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