The Next Trillion: Fiscal Responsibility Through More Accountability

Released by: U.S. PIRG Education Fund

On February 18, President Barack Obama established the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, or "debt commission." The goal of the bipartisan commission is to balance the budget by 2015 and strengthen the government’s long-term financial health.
To assist the work of the Commission when it commenced, U.S. PIRG looked at existing tax code for loopholes, reviewed government reports on wasteful contracting practices and crunched the numbers. We came up with an initial list of ways the government can save the first trillion dollars by enacting common sense policies that advance the public interest.
As the Commission continued its work, U.S. PIRG continued its research to find another trillion dollars in cost savings and additional revenues that would increase accountability to taxpayers.
Key findings include:

  • $160 billion in savings within the Medicare program by the use of electronic records, better alignment of payments to costs and ending inflated payments to pharmaceutical companies for prescription drugs;
  • $185 billion in savings by ending the practice of purchasing supplies and spare parts that go unused across different branches of the military; and
  • $884 billion in new revenue by implementing a fractional speculation fee on stock, bond, options, swap, futures and foreign exchange spot transactions.

Since the release of The First Trillion, the Administration and Congress have taken some important steps to address the initial cost-saving measures identified. For example, the Administration has collected data and produced additional guidance to help agencies identify wasteful contracts and information technology projects. In addition, Congress ended the practice of subsidizing private student loan lenders and began the process of closing a few international tax loopholes that enable individuals to keep money offshore and untaxed. But there is much more work to be done.
This report is intended to provide the President’s Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform with ways to reduce the deficit through common sense policies that are in the public interest.

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