This session of Congress will be a contentious; Republicans need to walk a tightrope reinventing their image as a party that can govern while appeasing their base. Certainly no major entitlement reform will come out of this congress and be signed by the president—that’s a bridge too far. 

A place Republicans can make serious inroads though is with President Obama’s $4 trillion dollar budget.  As Budget Chairman Rep. Tom Price and House Republicans are going through their committee hearings and markups of the budget they can easily find ways to cut spending without shutting down the government.

Republicans could cut appromixately $50 billion from the budget. Obviously, not enough to get the country back in the black, but a cut nonetheless that could show conservatives the Republican Party is sticking to their principles about smaller government. 

Rather than trying to close government departments, alter or end ObamaCare, or any other legislation that could trigger a government shutdown.  Smaller measures that reign in both big government and big spending could go by hardly being noticed.

Republicans could cut appromixately $50 billion from the budget. Obviously, not enough to get the country back in the black, but a cut nonetheless that could show conservatives the Republican Party is sticking to their principles about smaller government. 

Republicans could cut approximately $50 billion from the budget. Obviously, not enough to get the country back in the black, but a cut nonetheless that could show conservatives the Republican Party is sticking to their principles about smaller government. 

So while Republicans are busy approving the Key Stone Pipeline and trying to reform the tax code, they might consider the following items in order to reduce spending:

  • Cutting the Social Security office space; for more than $ 6 million, the Social Security administration is using office space that is largely unused or misused as storage space.  According to an Office of the Inspector General report, several of the SSA’s offices are less than fifty percent occupied.
  • Pass the “Let Me Google That For You Act”; it may not sound like a serious proposal but in 2014 the piece of legislation was sponsored by outgoing Senator Tom Coburn and had bipartisan support from Democrat Senators Claire McCaskill and John Walsh as well as Republican Senators Deb Fisher, Ron Johnson, Dean Heller, and Jeff Flake.  The bill would repeal the National Technical Information Act of 1988 and abolishes the National Technical Information Service (NTIS); conservatives can claim to actually repeal an existing law, abolish a federal agency, and save money at the same time.

The text of the legislation states that NTIS, which has an approximate budget of forty-five million dollars in 2015, was created in 1950 and is “ tasked with collecting and distributing government-funded scientific, technical, engineering, and business-related information and reports.” In November 2012 the Government Accountability Office found that 95% of these reports are available free online from multiple sources, most notably Google. 

The NTIS doesn’t create these reports, it only stores and sells them, but because of technology it has rendered their function useless.  Score another one for the free market.

  •  Mandate that Medicare Part B buy cancer drugs and equipment the same way Medicare Part D does; Medicare Part B paid nearly $111 million more buying the same cancer treatment.
  • Pass the “Reducing Overlapping Payments Act”; another piece of legislation sponsored by former Senator Tom Coburn and received bipartisan support from Democrat Senators Joe Manchin and Joe Donnelly, Republican Senators Jeff Flake, John Cornyn, and Mike Johanns, as well as the Independent Senator Angus King.  The Reducing Overlapping Payments Act would stop payments of Disability Insurance to anyone who worked a full-time job and claimed both Unemployment and Disability.  It would still allow someone to claim one unemployment compensation but would reduce abuse of the program.

This piece of legislation is extremely important as the Disability Insurance trust fund is set to go bankrupt in 2016.  In 2010, one hundred and seventeen thousand individuals received $850 million by double dipping in both programs.

  • Stop illegal immigrants from receiving tax credits; according to the Treasury Department’s Inspector General that tax credit payments to illegal immigrants increased from less than a billion dollars in 2005 to more than $4 billion in 2010.  While there has been no study done since then, using the same math would suggestion payments to illegal immigrants may have increased considerably. 

The tax credits come in two forms, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC).  These tax breaks are worrisome for several reasons, most notably they benefit illegal aliens who have broken into the country, do not pay income tax, and the IRS does not verify the existence of children or eligibility. The inspector general claims that both programs have made “improper payments” to nearly a quarter of EITC beneficiaries and as much as thirty percent of ACTC beneficiaries.

  •  Combine duplicate federal programs; which according to the Government Accountability Office taxpayers spend $45 billion.  According to that same agency, the federal government has duplicate programs in one hundred and eighty-eight areas.

For example, according to USA Today, the Department of Health and Human Services has ten different offices to run duplicate programs addressing AIDS in minority communities and The Department of Defense of Defense has eight different agencies looking for prisoners of war and missing in action.

Cutting government spending isn’t as terrifying as liberals claim it is but it isn’t as easy as some on the right make it out to be. Certainly, if Republicans want to regain the Oval Office and prove to their base they’re serious and principled, they must start somewhere and sometimes you can cut government spending without having to threaten shutting the government down.

Ryan James Girdusky is a writer and commentator.