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Reason Foundation

Kill the Endowments

Shikha Dalmia
February 26, 2010, 2:48pm

With the federal deficit touching an eye-popping $1.56 trillion dollars -- or 10.6% of the GDP -- one would have thought that President Obama would go into full gear to cut every bit of non-essential, wasteful pork in the federal budget. Afterall, he's himself acknowledged that if nothing is done: "These deficits, over time, will harm economic growth and impose burdens on our children and grandchildren." But the only thing notable about his proposed budget for 2011 is its pusillanimous porcinity. Forget politically hard cuts, he doesn't even tackle what I dub in a Washington Times column the "no brainer" cuts. "No brainer" not only because their original rationale was totally daft but because their impact is so negligible that nixing them requires no forethought. These include the three national endowments and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting:

To be sure, the $1 billion or so these agencies consume amounts to a spitlet in Uncle Sam's $3.8 trillion budget. Eliminating them won't make even a minor dent in the country's $1.56 trillion budget deficit, which stands at an eye-popping 10.6 percent of the gross domestic product, five times greater than what it was just three years ago. Any serious attempt to stanch the red ink flowing out of Washington must involve Social Security and Medicare reform, which together already ingest a quarter of the budget. However, tackling them will be the political equivalent of containing a Mount Vesuvius eruption, given the vast constituency that depends on them.

By contrast, few besides the government employees who run the no-brainer programs would even notice they were gone - especially because they have long outlived their uselessness....

Read the whole thing here.


Shikha Dalmia is Senior Analyst


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