"Federal policymakers face a difficult set of challenges in 1995,"
is the opening sentence of a 435-page report recently released by
the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Although this report,
"Reducing the Deficit: Spending and Revenue Options," is a fixture
of the budget process, it is more likely to receive attention this
spring as the House and Senate look for ways to cut spending.
The CBO, established in 1974, has a staff of budget specialists and
economists. It plays a vital, if low-key, role in tracking bills
from the budgetary perspective.
There are 216 specific policy options in this report, which has
been issued annually for the last 15 years. In the preface of the
document, the CBO director notes that "this report has become a
standard reference for developing deficit reduction plans." The
preface continues, "In accordance with CBO's mandate to provide
objective and impartial analysis, the discussion of each option
presents the cases for and against it as fairly as possible. CBO
does not endorse the options included, nor does exclusion of any
proposal imply a recommendation." Many of these options have been
Since these are large numbers, it is important to note that CBO
calculates "cumulative five-year savings" from the 1995 funding
level both with and without an adjustment for inflation. Critics
contend inflationary figures can be used to obscure spending, so
CBO provided numbers which do not include an adjustment for
inflation. These figures will be used below. CBO calculates that
inflation will decrease real resources by approximately 14 percent
over the next five years. All figures below are for outlays, the
actual amount of money which the government spends during a year.
Frequently, long-term projects require the government to spend
money in a current year that was obligated in a previous year.
Funding these commitments is where the cash crunch has been for
some appropriations committees.
Among those options of interest to the physics community are the
following. All figures are cumulative five-year savings in outlays
and are not adjusted for inflation.
"Cancel the International Space Station Program;" $9,576 million.
"Scale Back and Delay NASA's Earth Observation System," from the
Administration's 1995 plan; $839 million.
"Reduce Department of Energy Funding for Energy Technology
Development Efforts" is broken down by fossil energy R&D, nuclear
energy R&D, fusion R&D, and energy conservation and solar and
renewable energy R&D. CBO estimates a savings of $657 million for
"Eliminate the Advanced Technology Program;" $1,504 million.
"Reduce the Overhead Rate on Federally Sponsored University
Research," which CBO calculated by freezing the 1995 funding level
of over-all payments at 90 percent; $1,731 million.
"Reduce Spending for the High Performance Computing and
Communications Program;" $1,565 million.
"Cut Spending for Dual-Use Technology Programs to Historical
Levels;" $4,380 million.
To purchase a copy of the report, call the US Government Printing
Office at 202-512-1800. ISBN 0-16-045518-9