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Reducing American Deficit Spending

Updated: Mar 25

Big Picture

This past week, the Treasury reported that the U.S. budget deficit is up to $1.7 trillion, an unprecedented number: up by over $300 billion from last year’s deficit. Deficit spending in the federal budget has been an essential part of our national spending for the past few decades. However, as time goes on, the federal government (not to mention the public) has become too accustomed to this practice, allowing numbers to get out of hand. Deficit spending harms the economic growth of the country, pushing debt onto future generations. This forces those who must handle it to make upsetting budget cuts to “less” important sectors like Medicare and other social welfare programs. 

The current deficit results from a highly unbalanced federal budget. The government is spending far more than it is making, despite the fact that the country is not in a good position to continue borrowing excessively. The United States is slipping deeper and deeper into economic instability, all as Americans stand by and watch idly. 

As of late, the United States Department of Defense has been spending excessively in order to provide military aid to countries like Ukraine and Israel. This is not to be mistaken with foreign aid spending for humanitarian purposes, which the United States spends far less on (percentage-wise) when in comparison to other major world powers. In order to prioritize the financial well-being of American lives, the United States should make a respectable degree of cuts to the defense budget to shift focus from international affairs back to our nation. 

We should also make cuts to social welfare programs. Cuts to Social Security and Medicare involve slightly increasing the age at which citizens may qualify for Medicare and receive their Social Security.

This proposal contrasts the platform of both Republican lawmakers, who favor a 1% increase in the defense budget for the year 2023, and Democratic lawmakers who often favor increased social welfare. Both sides want to spend money we don't have. 

Operative Definitions

  1. Federal Budget: The federal budget is an itemized plan for the public expenditures of the United States. It must be approved by Congress and signed by the president in order to release the money that finances all federal activities.

  2. National Deficit: A deficit occurs when the federal government’s spending exceeds its revenues. The federal government has spent $1.70 trillion more than it has collected in fiscal year (FY) 2023, resulting in a national deficit.

  3. Federal Revenue: Government revenue is income received from taxes and other sources to pay for government expenditures.

  4. Federal Borrowing: The national debt ($33.63 T) is the total amount of outstanding borrowing by the U.S. Federal Government accumulated over the nation’s history.

Important Facts and Statistics

  1. Fifty-seven percent of Americans believe that reducing the budget deficit should be a top priority for the president and Congress.

  2. This week, the Biden administration is requesting $61.4 billion to support Ukraine and $14.3 billion to support Israel, in addition to the $60 billion it has already sent to Ukraine since early last year.

  3. For several years, the nation’s debt has been bigger than its Gross Domestic Product.

  4. Servicing the U.S. debt is one of the federal government’s biggest expenses.

Two-Point Plan

(1) Develop and garner support, in both Congress and the Senate, for a non-partisan bill to reduce deficit spending by allowing cuts to the federal budget, with the goal of protecting the growth and stability of the United States economy.

The following cuts should be considered: a 6% cut to the Defense budget, a 5% cut to the Social Security budget, a 10% cut to the Medicare budget, an 8% cut to the Medicaid budget, a 10% cut to Mandatory Spending and a 15% cut to all other spending. By enacting cuts to the Defense, Medicare and Social Security budgets, cuts to other sectors—like mandatory spending—do not have to be so significant. In the Republican Study Committee’s plan, mandatory spending would be reduced by a whopping 60%. In the plan proposed here, mandatory spending does not have to be cut by more than 10%, and cuts are relatively evenly distributed across budget items. These cuts do not get rid of our country’s debt or deficit spending but do reduce it by a significant amount. Any step toward the goal of reducing the U.S. deficit spending, whatever its size, is one toward a stronger American economy.

(2) Reformulate budget cuts according to the needs of Congress, but maintain a relatively even distribution.

Formulate the specific, evenly distributed percentage of cuts to be made to each sector based on the wants and needs of each party, as identified through civil discussions. This proposal cannot work without effective, adaptable dialogue between parties. 

Why This Initiative is Important

Reducing deficit spending should be a top priority for Congress. Our immense debt puts us in a position of weakness. Our economy does not have a reliable safety net because of the focus we must give to repaying debt from previous years. For example, when a global crisis like the spread of COVID-19 occurs, the federal government can only dig itself a deeper hole of debt. It should be a priority to prepare for unforeseen circumstances like this, so the government can properly spend money stored away instead of borrowing excessively. 

Above all else, American lives are threatened when there is a lack of stability in the U.S. economy. More debt means less investment in the future, forcing taxpayers to play catch up with years and years of accumulated debt costs. The government’s duty is to protect citizens and their interests. Congress has the ability to reduce the burden of debt, which largely relies on taxpayer dollars, without increasing taxes.

Reducing the federal budget is no small feat, and comes with a cost. Just as if the government were to raise taxes to increase revenue and reduce the deficit, people must pay a price. Budget cuts to each sector make the effects on citizens indirect, allowing Americans to keep their money in their pockets. By implementing budget cuts, deficit spending can be reduced without directly affecting individual Americans. It is important to keep the interests of Americans in mind, and the majority of the country does not want to be taxed anymore, even when it is in the best interest of the economy.

Reducing the federal government’s budget must be done with bipartisan intent; thus, an even distribution of budget cuts among different sectors. To maintain the integrity of the country, and its economy which drives it, deficit spending must be reduced as soon as possible.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author.

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