A lot of government spending has leveled off; however, a few areas are still growing rapidly. Here are the top 10 areas I would look to cut spending. This does not include any mandatory spending items.
1. State Department OCO spending in Iraq. The state department OCO budget soared from $4.7 billion in 2010 to $8.7 billion in 2012. Of this $8.7 billion, $5.2 billion is for Iraq in 2012, up from $1.6 billion in 2011. The US military is no longer in Iraq, so there should be some peace dividends. The budgets for Afghanistan and Pakistan could also be cut a little. At least $1 billion should be sliced from this budget.
2. Education. Most education dollars are spent locally, so why is federal spending soaring, from $64.3 billion in 2010 to $77.4 billion in 2012? Maybe Pell grants are increasing. Whatever the case, at least slow down the rate of spending. It should be very easy to cut $1 billion here.
3. Department of Energy. This supposedly merited a 12% increase over the last 2 years. "This reflects increases for priority areas such as clean energy, nuclear security, and research and development." It also reflects boondoggles, such as Solyndra, the $50 lightbulb, and the blockage of the Keystone pipeline. How about a 12% cut instead?
4. National Science Foundation. Although the budget is fairly small, totalling only $7.8 billion in 2012, it has been rapidly increasing. The biggest part of the increase is $998 million for "clean energy".
5. Veterans Affairs. This budget has increased 11% over the last 2 years, and some caps are needed.
6. Social Security Administration. This has nothing to do with benefits, instead it is increased operations costs. Much of the increase has to do with expanding the area that processes disability claims, which has a huge backlog. The SSDI trust fund will go broke in 2018, and processing claims faster will only speed this up.
7. Homeland Security. This was the biggest area of government spending increases, although the rate has slowed recently. But it is still rising more than is warranted. How about a freeze in DHS spending for a couple of years?
8. State Department. Separate from the OCO spending previously mentioned, the State Department has had a large increase in spending, some of it related to climate change and clean energy. How about a freeze in State Department spending for a couple of years?
9. Department of Defense. The DOD budget really hasn't gone up that much recently, but it is so huge that there should be a few billion per year that could be cut here.
10. DOD OCO. This area has been reduced recently, but it is still one of the biggest line items in the budget. Let's cut a few billion more from this area. Maybe accelerate withdrawal from Afghanistan?