CAP en Español
Small CAP Banner

COLUMN: Discretionary Spending Is Good Spending, Too

Budget Cuts Here Aren’t Likely to Be Easy or Painless

    PRINT:
  • print icon
  • SHARE:
  • Facebook icon
  • Twitter icon
  • Share on Google+
  • Email icon

Contact: Madeline Meth
Phone: 202.741.6277
Email: mmeth@americanprogress.org

By Michael EttlingerMichael Linden | March 24, 2010

Read the full column

Interactive: What Is Non-Defense Discretionary Spending?

The way policymakers of both political parties talk about axing “non-defense discretionary spending” you’d think it involved government payments to the devil himself. The president’s 2011 budget proposes capping “non-security” discretionary spending. The Senate recently barely voted down two different proposals that would have imposed serious cuts. And Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) conservative vision for the budget would impose the most severe cuts of all.

With all this attention on a specific part of the budget, it must be a big slice of the federal spending pie full of programs that nobody likes, have no purpose, and could easily be cut back, right? Wrong. That’s not to say that this type of spending isn’t going to be on the table in these challenging fiscal times—but we shouldn’t kid ourselves that cutting it will be easy, painless or, in most cases, good for the nation.

Non-defense discretionary spending is just 15 percent of the federal budget and yet it funds hundreds of valuable programs and services across a wide range of important areas. Non-defense discretionary programs reach every person in the country through health care research, highway maintenance and construction, airport security, and pollution cleanup, to name just a few. Take a look at our new interactive tool to explore this poorly understood portion of the federal budget and decide for yourself if slashing non-defense discretionary spending is as painless as some would have us believe.

Read the full column

Interactive: What Is Non-Defense Discretionary Spending?

###

To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:

Print: Allison Preiss (economy, education, poverty)
202.478.6331 or apreiss@americanprogress.org

Print: Tom Caiazza (foreign policy, health care, energy and environment, LGBT issues, gun-violence prevention)
202.481.7141 or tcaiazza@americanprogress.org

Print: Chelsea Kiene (women's issues, Legal Progress, Half in Ten Education Fund)
202.478.5328 or ckiene@americanprogress.org

Spanish-language and ethnic media: Tanya Arditi (immigration, race and ethnicity)
202.741.6258 or tarditi@americanprogress.org

TV: Rachel Rosen
202.483.2675 or rrosen@americanprogress.org

Radio: Chelsea Kiene
202.478.5328 or ckiene@americanprogress.org