Group Think: The opposite of traditional ''groupthink,'' our Group Think poses one question to a variety of smart thinkers for insightful perspectives on relevant issues.

Cut Out Wasteful Spending

  • submit to reddit

Mattea Kramer

The fiscal cliff is an opportunity for lawmakers to do the serious budget planning that they’ve avoided in recent years. In a perfect world, they would cancel the automatic cuts of sequestration and instead negotiate a long-term budget deal that addresses three key areas of the budget: health care costs, military spending and tax revenue. We could reduce health care costs without cutting benefits by phasing out our fee-for-service system and paying for performance instead. We could save many billions of dollars annually by spending more wisely on the Pentagon. And currently federal tax revenue as a share of the economy is at its lowest point in more than half a century. That fact ought to be a wake-up call: We’re not bringing in enough revenue to fund key priorities. It would be wise to limit credits and deductions and allow parts of the Bush-era tax cuts to expire.

And as they put together a long-term budget deal, it’s crucial that lawmakers not lose sight of the millions of unemployed Americans. Federal emergency unemployment benefits expire at the end of the year; those benefits should be extended so that the most vulnerable Americans aren’t hit with yet another devastating setback. With the economy still so fragile, deficit reduction is a long-term objective, while supporting our economic recovery is an urgent matter.

Mattea Kramer is a senior research analyst at the National Priorities Project. She is lead author of the new book A People’s Guide to the Federal Budget. Kramer recently wrote about how the fiscal cliff isn’t as dreadful as the media makes it out to be, and answered questions about the the Ryan budget in August.

  • submit to reddit encourages conversation and debate around issues, events and ideas related to content on Moyers & Company and the website.

  • The editorial staff reserves the right to take down comments it deems inappropriate.
  • Profanity, personal attacks, hate speech, off-topic posts, advertisements and spam will not be tolerated.
  • Do not intentionally make false or misleading statements, impersonate someone else, break the law, or condone or encourage unlawful activity.

If your comments consistently or intentionally make this community a less civil and enjoyable place to be, you and your comments will be excluded from it.

We need your help with this. If you feel a post is not in line with the comment policy, please flag it so that we can take a look. Comments and questions about our policy are welcome. Please send an email to

Find out more about's privacy policy and terms of service.

  • Anonymous

    Shoot, next thing you’ll be asking for is the Pentagon to be able to actually audit its books. :-)