At the Cato Institute, Michael Chapman discusses GOP presidential primary candidate Vivek Ramaswamy’s intent to cut federal government spending, and the detailed plan created by Cato’s Chris Edwards. Chapman writes:
In a recent speech, GOP presidential contender Vivek Ramaswamy outlined a multi‐year plan to reduce the federal workforce by 75 percent, slash regulations, and “shut down redundant federal agencies,” if elected. While Ramaswamy’s goals may seem fantastic, scholars at the Cato Institute have presented detailed policies for reducing the size of the federal government and its workforce.
In 2022, for instance, economist Chris Edwards, the editor of Cato’s DownsizingGovernment.org, published a detailed plan of specific cuts to the federal budget. These spending reductions, phased in over 10 years, would “by 2032 total $2.3 trillion annually, including reduced interest costs,” he wrote.
Federal spending would fall from “23.8 percent of GDP in 2022 to 18.1 percent in 2032, which would balance the budget that year,” and “reduce dangerously high debt levels,” wrote Edwards. The cuts would also trim the federal workforce, which is estimated at 2.2 million civilian workers.
With health care, for instance, Edwards’ plan would produce annual savings of $808 billion. For Social Security, cuts would equal $380 billion a year. Total annual savings in those two categories would equal $1.18 trillion.
With discretionary federal programs there are many places to reduce spending. For instance, in the Agriculture Department, ending farm subsidies would total $33.5 billion a year in savings, and cutting food subsidies would equal $145.6 billion. Ending rural subsidies would save $5.8 billion a year. Total annual savings in 2032 for the department would equal $184 billion.
Some of the annual savings from phased‐in cuts in several other departments include,
- Department of Commerce $5.1 billion
- Department of Education $75.9 billion
- Department of Energy $6.8 billion
- Department of Homeland Security $30.1 billion
- Department of Housing and Urban Development $67.3 billion
- Department of Transportation $49.8 billion
- Department of the Treasury $89.4 billion
- Cut foreign aid by 50 percent $12.3 billion
- Cut NASA budget by 50 percent $11.7 billion
- End EPA state/local grants $3.7 billion
In total, the discretionary spending cuts from Edwards’ plan would produce an annual savings of $610.9 billion. (“The plan assumes that one‐tenth of the cuts would be phased in each year over the coming decade.”)
These reductions in federal spending would produce numerous benefits. They would boost economic growth (more money and opportunities in the private sector), trim the power of the administrative state (fewer federal workers), slash deficit spending, reduce inflation and the national debt, and enhance individual liberty. Federal downsizing would disperse power out of Washington and back to the people—individuals, private businesses, and communities.
It would also help to corral the federal government back inside its constitutional borders.
Read more here.