Cutting Federal Spending May Be as Easy as A to Z
Special Report No. 36
Executive Summary A new proposal to cut federal spending, the “A-Z Spending Cuts Plan” is stalled in the U.S. House of Representatives. This bipartisan plan, authored by Representatives Rob Andrews (D-NJ) and Bill Zeliff (R-NH) and co-sponsored by a majority of members, would convene a special House session to consider cuts in federal spending.
This measure is the latest in a series of proposals aimed at controlling federal spending and reducing the deficit. Domestic discretionary spending includes al l spending on domestic programs other than defense and excludes all entitlement spending such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Since it is generally considered to be the most controllable portion of the federal budget, an examination of its recent history can provide some insight into the climate that has prevailed in Washington over the past three decades.
There have been three significant periods in recent domestic discretionary spending history. The first lasted from 1962 to 1980. During this period domestic discretionary spending soared. The second period lasted from 1981 to 1987 when substantial cuts were made in this type of spending. In the final period, 1988 to the present, domestic discretionary spending is again growing rapidly.