5 Wasteful Items that Obama Should Cut from the Budget

President Obama’s eighth, and final, budget was released this week, and he is requesting $4.1 trillion in spending for fiscal 2017, funded in part by $3 trillion in higher taxes. The White House estimates that the deficit for fiscal 2016 will be $616 billion, up from $438 billion in 2015. So where can he cut?

Green infrastructure: The president wants to spend $320 billion over the next decade in a “clean transportation system for the 21st Century that speeds goods to market while reducing America’s reliance on oil, cutting carbon pollution, and strengthening our resilience to the effects of the changing climate.” That includes high-speed rail, an expensive form of transportation that always runs at a deficit because riders do not want to pick up the tab.

Renewable energy: To fulfill promises made last year during the climate-change conference in Paris, President Obama wants to plow more government money into clean energy. Never mind that U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases are only 16% of global emissions, so reducing U.S. emissions will not help cool the planet.

Free tuition: This, and related proposals, would cost $61 billion over the next decade. But community college is already affordable. Tuition for community college averages $3,260 per year, a fraction of the cost of four-year public and private colleges. In addition, financial aid is available for low-income students.

Expansion of paid leave: Requiring paid leave discourages employers from hiring women, because they take more time off to care for family members than men do. Although the cost of this budget line to the taxpayer is not large compared with other proposed programs, the potential cost in terms of job loss is substantial.

Retirement Savings: Americans already have universal access to retirement savings through individual retirement accounts, which enable them to put away $5,500 a year on a tax-deferred basis.

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