Let's be clear, nobody in the nation truly believes it is fiscally responsible to have a $14 trillion deficit. Both sides of the aisle are ready, with some Congress members much more eager than others, to make needed budget cuts.
Further, most economists and even investment bankers believe that it should not be difficult to cut $100 billion from the federal budget of $3.73 trillion. In fact, if you just do the math, cutting $100 billion from the federal government's budget would amount to ONLY a 2.7 percent cut across the board.
To be sure, as with any household, cutting 2.7 percent of spending would not be terribly difficult nor exceedingly painful. Having worked with the federal government for more than 30 years, I can tell you there is FAT everywhere in the budget. Every part of the federal government is in severe need of liposuction. And, following that procedure, it should be put on Michelle Obama's anti-obesity diet!
So what's the problem?
Well, to put it most simply -- across the board is seemingly off the table -- and that is where the pain comes in. When cuts are allowed to be disproportionately placed on the backs of some groups, rather than distributed evenly, the entire budget trimming process becomes mired in unnecessary partisan controversy and vitriol.
It is inappropriate, in my opinion, to target the EPA with a 30 percent spending cut, along with dismantling clean water and clean air programs. Likewise, cutting programs that provide women, infants and children with nutrition is a horrible idea. These and other budget cutting actions being undertaken by Republicans only detract from the basic mission of deficit reduction.
When one of their own members, Rep. Steve LaTourette from Ohio, suggested that the goal of cutting $100 billion from the budget be reached by trimming all federal programs -- no exceptions, across the board -- he found almost no GOP support.
Instead, Republicans appear bent on gutting programs they dislike, slashing and burning to achieve political goals, are opening themselves up to criticism and creating unnecessary pain.
Already the protests have begun around the nation against Republicans who are targeting federal funding for Planned Parenthood, unions, clean air, clean water and other politically motivated programs.
The controversial nature of the GOP budget cuts is guaranteed to degrade into a House and Senate battle, and administration and House battle that will ensue for months.
But wait; there is an answer to trimming the federal budget without all the pain. Just like the promises made by those late night infomercials, the nonpartisan Government Accounting Office (GAO) has a solution for getting rid of that ugly, unwanted federal fat.
In its report released March 1, the GAO detailed hundreds of federal programs across every government agency that overlap or are duplicative, wasting billions in taxpayer dollars each year. Just eliminating the duplication of programs would save billions.
And when it comes to the GAO report the best news is -- there is bipartisan buy-in!
"As lawmakers in Congress debate the federal budget, the findings from the GAO report should guide efforts to reduce spending and bring down the soaring deficit," said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX).
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) said the GAO report gives lawmakers "a chance to make smart cuts, instead of reckless cuts."
Finally, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) said, "This report shows we could save taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars every year without cutting services. GAO has identified a mother lode of government waste and duplication that should keep Congress busy for the rest of the year."
Coburn estimates that eliminating overlapping and duplicative programs could save as much as $100 billion a year. Now where have we heard that number before?
Using the GAO report as a guide to spending cuts would be painless, fair and easy to pass. Or better yet, cut 2.7% across the board and then cut deeper into duplicative programs.
So get on with the cutting so we can return the focus to where it needs to be -- creating jobs and getting this nation back to work!
Caren Z. Turner is the CEO of the government relations firm, Turner GPA. She was previously on the National Finance Committee for Hillary Clinton as well as other state and federal politicians. Turner GPA is the recent recipient of the Top 100 Privately Held Businesses in Washington, DC.
Follow Caren Z. Turner on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CarenTurner