CBO Shows More Effective Means to Reduce the Deficit Than Targeting the Federal Workforce

The Congressional Budget Office has published a list of 115 ways to reduce the federal deficit in the coming years. The author points out that the options which target the federal workforce generally offer smaller deficit reductions than other items on the list.

Much of the current talk in Washington concerns President-elect Donald Trump’s plans for new spending. Even with the new Administration’s plans to stimulate the economy, deficit reduction will be a major consideration for the new Congress.

In anticipation of the coming Congressional debates about deficits, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has published its list of 115 options that would decrease federal spending or increase federal revenues between 2017 and 2026 and scored the anticipated savings for each option.

Not all deficit reduction plans offer equal levels of savings, and while targeting federal employees and retirees might be politically popular, when you look at the numbers, the savings are less than substantial.

While the list is quite varied, here are the CBO’s proposals that promise some of the largest net deficit reductions, mostly by increasing taxes (in billions):

If politicians want to accomplish deficit reductions without imposing tax increases, the largest spending deductions include (in billions):

In contrast, the CBO proposals that target federal civilian workers are quite modest in their potential to reduce the deficit (in billions):

Three health-related options listed by CBO would affect the general population as well as federal employees and retirees (in billions):

Of course, it will be up to the incoming Administration and Congress to choose which proposals to pursue, if any, of the 115 on this list.

Those items that offer the most savings might also engender the most opposition, and it will be a matter of political will for Congress and the new Administration to choose which deficit-reducing options to pursue.

About the Author

Michael Wald is a public affairs consultant and writer based in the Atlanta area. He specializes in topics related to government and labor issues. Prior to his retirement from the U.S. Department of Labor, he served as the agency’s Southeast Regional Director of Public Affairs and Southeast Regional Economist.