More Double-Sided Copies, And 4 Other Ways To Cut The Deficit


The Army Corps of Engineers spends $90 million a year to restore beaches. Craig Litten/AP hide caption

toggle caption Craig Litten/AP

Yesterday's draft proposal to cut the federal deficit got a lot of news coverage for something so provisional.

Maybe that's because these guys actually listed specific spending cuts and tax increases — the kind of specifics that are absurdly difficult to get out of the elected officials (in both parties) who have the power to do something about the deficit.

The proposal includes a lot of familiar biggies — get rid of earmarks, freeze pay for federal workers, cut spending on defense contracts, eliminate the mortgage interest tax deduction, raise the cap on taxable earnings for social security, raise the retirement age, etc.

But the "illustrative list" of spending cuts — 58 items spread over 24 pages — also includes some astonishingly detailed ideas.

Here are five of them:

Enough already with printing everything out. "...civilian federal employees spend $1.3 billion annually on office printing, of which over $400 million of which can be considered 'unnecessary.' "

Use both sides when you make copies! "... reduce copying use by putting the default option on copiers to double-sided..." (ht Felix Salmon)

Do we really need that consulate in Krakow? "In Krakow, Poland, the United States plans to build a consulate that will cost U.S. taxpayers $80 million but will house only ten American employees."

Charge all those freeloaders visiting the National Zoo and the Smithsonian. "Raising $225 million in fees would average about $7.50 per visitor."

Beachgoers can pay for their own damn sand. The Army Corps of Engineers spends $90 million a year to restore beaches, largely by dredging sand offshore and pumping it onshore. Opponents of the program argue that "the cost of beach replenishment should be borne by those who benefit from it: states, localities, and private landowners."

Full disclosure: The proposal also suggested cutting funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which provides some funding for NPR.



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