Toward Common Ground: Bridging the Political Divide with Deficit Reduction Recommendations for Congress

To break through the ideological divide that has dominated Washington in recent years and offer a pathway to address the nation’s fiscal problems, National Taxpayers Union and U.S. PIRG joined together to identify mutually acceptable deficit reduction measures. This report documents our recommendations. What follows is a general summary of recommendations that fall into four categories: - $151.6 billion in savings from ending wasteful subsidies; - $197.2 billion from addressing outdated or ineffective military programs; - $42.3 billion from improving program execution and government operations; and -$131.6 billion from reforms to entitlement programs.   Each specific recommendation includes an estimate of potential savings over the next 10 years, and a reference to the source from which the estimate was drawn.



As 2013 enters its final stretch, our nation faces enormous fiscal challenges. After the recent partial government shutdown—the first in 18 years—Congress established a Budget Conference Committee to hash out a long-term budget deal and put America’s finances back on track. 

As a result, National Taxpayers Union (NTU) and U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) have joined together to propose to the Budget Conference Committee and to Congress a list of 65 recommendations to reform our future spending commitments. If enacted in their entirety, these changes would save taxpayers more than half a trillion dollars over the coming decade.

While our organizations have typically differed about the proper regulatory role of government and a host of tax policies, we are united in the belief that we spend far too much money on ineffective programs that do not serve the best interests of the American people. This joint project is an attempt at identifying the “low hanging fruit” of waste and inefficiency in the federal budget, in hopes of transcending some of the ideological and partisan bickering that has helped to create the fiscal mess we see today. In a similar report submitted in 2010, we outlined recommendations for the President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility. When the committee chairs and their majority announced their decisions, 20 of the 30 U.S. PIRG-NTU recommendations had been adopted.

The recommendations in “Toward Common Ground 2013” touch nearly every area of federal expenditures, including entitlements, defense spending, wasteful subsidies, and a broad range of improvements to the efficiency and effectiveness of discretionary programs. They include large items, such as eliminating the crop insurance program, which would save taxpayers $84 billion, and relatively small ones, like $16 million in spending on lavish events for contractors through NASA’s Space Flight Awareness program. They are specific, detailed, and actionable items that Congress could pursue right now to reduce spending and ensure stability for America’s long-term budget.