10 ways to cut Uncle Sam's budget

chart_spending_cuts.top.gif By Charles Riley, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Cut the budget! That was the rallying cry for many candidates of both parties, but if you listened closely, you heard little in the way of specifics.

Enter the co-chairmen of President Obama's bipartisan deficit commission. On Wednesday, they recommended 58 ways to cut spending. And their cuts are downright specific.

The report from Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson -- experienced Washington hands -- recommends reducing discretionary spending to 2010 levels in 2012, and then cutting discretionary spending by 1% a year through 2015.

After 2015, inflation-adjusted growth would be allowed.

Overall, Simpson and Bowles are recommending that total spending not exceed 22% of GDP initially, but no more than 21% eventually.

To show how Congress could hit those targets, Bowles and Simpson offered examples of cuts totaling $200 billion for the year 2015.

Here are their top 10 money-saving proposals, six of which come from the defense portion of the federal budget:

Streamline the Defense Department: In May, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced a plan to cut defense spending and reallocate the money within defense. But Bowles and Simpson say that $28 billion in savings could be used to reduce the deficit.

Reduce defense procurement: The co-chairmen proposed cutting $20 billion in defense contracts. On the chopping block are two next-generation fighting machines: the V-22 Osprey and the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle.

Cut 250,000 non-defense contractors: There are simply too many government contractors (2.4 million added between 2002 and 2005), according to Bowles and Simpson. Cutting 250,000 jobs would save an estimated $18.4 billion.

Eliminate all earmarks: Long the whipping boy of government spending, cutting these handpicked pork projects would save an estimated $16 billion.

Freeze pay for non-defense workers for 3 years: The wages of federal employees have continued to climb during the recession, despite the fact that private-sector wages have stalled. A three-year freeze on government pay would net $15.1 billion in savings, according to the co-chairmen.

Cut non-defense workforce by 10%: If the government hires only two workers for every three that leave their jobs, the federal workforce will decline by 200,000 by 2020, saving the government $13.2 billion.

Freeze non-combat military pay: Regular military pay is expected to grow by $9.2 billion from 2011 to 2015. The report recommends a three-year freeze at 2011 pay levels (excluding combat pay).

Cut overseas military deployments: Reducing the 150,000 military personnel on overseas deployment by one-third would save an estimated $8.5 billion. Both former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and National Security Adviser Jim Jones have supported similar proposals in the past.

Reduce military R&D: A 10% reduction in military research and development would save an estimated $7 billion. Bowles and Simpson argue the cut is consistent with the military's move away from major weapons system research.

Modernize military health care: Reforming the DOD's health care systems would save an estimated $6 billion.  To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 18,288.63 155.93 0.86%
Nasdaq 5,008.10 44.57 0.90%
S&P 500 2,117.39 12.89 0.61%
Treasuries 2.08 0.08 4.10%
Data as of 2:22am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Apple Inc 129.09 0.63 0.49%
Cisco Systems Inc 30.19 0.68 2.30%
Microsoft Corp 43.88 0.03 0.07%
Intel Corp 34.06 0.81 2.44%
Staples Inc 17.02 0.25 1.49%
Data as of Mar 2
Sponsors

Sections

Guinness owner says inclusion of an LGBT group in this year's parade is reason to resume its sponsorship, though some gay rights groups are still protesting the parade's policies. More

The Stratos Card is a new Bluetooth-connected device that wants to make all of your credit cards, debit cards, loyalty cards, and gift cards obsolete. More

Last week, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would expand benefits offered by the college savings plans to include coverage of expenses like computers and Internet access, among other things. And there is bipartisan support for it in the Senate, too. More