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Watchdog Group Cuts Deficit — Without Touching Medicare, Social Security, Or Other Social Programs

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February 25, 2010

On the Hill

A consumer watchdog group is giving President Obama’s bipartisan deficit-reduction commission a head start — a $1.4 trillion head start.

Obama last week created the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform to develop a plan to balance the federal budget by 2015 and strengthen

off shore tax havens add to the deficit

the government’s financial health. Obama named as co-chairs Clinton administration budget director Alice Rivlin and former GOP senator Alan Simpson.

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group this week posted online in The First Trillion report – a new list of policy recommendations that would save American taxpayers more than $1 trillion.

None of the recommendations would cut Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security or other social safety-net programs that many liberals worry will come under the commission’s fiscal knife.

To calculate The First Trillion, U.S. PIRG says it looked at existing tax code for loopholes, reviewed government reports on wasteful contracting practices and crunched the numbers. The group says that it came up with ways the government can save the first trillion dollars “by enacting common sense policy that is in the public interest.”

“To truly put everything on the table, the commission cannot ignore gaping corporate loopholes and tax breaks that have gone unchecked,” says Nicole Tichon, tax and budget reform analyst for U.S. PIRG. “There has also been ample evidence that all agencies need to undergo scrutiny when it comes to the money spent on contracts.”

A number of the recommended provisions were included in Obama’s proposed budgets last year and this year, but never made their way into final legislation, U.S. PIRG notes. Some of the largest potential revenues can be derived from closing loopholes that enable large corporations and individuals to make use of offshore tax havens for business or banking. Despite attenpting to make political hay out of the budget deficit, Republicans have already objected to ending at least some of these corporate giveaways.

The U.S. PIRG recommendations would collect duplicate payments made to federal contractors, as well as collect delinquent taxes from these contactors, and end student loan subsidies to private lenders.

“In addition to bailing out bankers now rolling in bonus money, taxpayers and small businesses on Main Street have had to assume the tax burden of those who use every trick in the book to avoid paying taxes,” Tichon says. “This has got to end, and enacting the policy recommendations in The First Trillion report are a good place to start.”

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