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Begich Calls for More Than $400 Million in Budget Cuts

Roots out Waste and Giveaways, Calls for Increased Transparency

As the Senate today navigated through ongoing negotiations over the FY14 budget, U.S. Senator Mark Begich filed a series of amendments calling for additional cuts in federal spending. Today's amendments are just one step in Begich's overall efforts to reduce federal spending.

“I have not been shy about my frustration at the lack of progress on spending cuts in Congress and today is just the beginning of a series of cuts I plan to put forward,” said Sen. Begich. “I believe there are real opportunities to get rid of waste and irresponsible spending. That is why I’ve worked with my colleagues—on both sides of the aisle—to put together a series of amendments that call for more than $400 million in budget cuts. This isn’t a time for partisan politics—this is a time to work together.”

Amendments that Begich introduced include:

Identifying Waste:

  • Ending MEADs (#234):  This amendment would place a prohibition on additional Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS) funding.  Although the Department of Defense has not announced its funding request for FY14, in past years this program has cost roughly $400 million. 

Approximate savings:  $400 million

Ending Giveaways:

  • Ending Giveaways for Millionaires (#406):  This amendment would prevent unemployment benefits for people making more than $1 million adjusted gross income (AGI).  Begich is the lead sponsor of this amendment along with Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma)

Approximate savings: $20 million annually

Increasing Transparency

  • Bringing Transparency in Farm Subsidies (#254): This amendment would require public disclosure of the name of each individual or entity who obtained a portion of the $9 billion annually spent on federally subsidized crop insurance. Such transparency will help prevent waste, fraud and abuse—such as absent landowners or major corporations getting millions of dollars in subsidies—and ultimately reduce spending in this program.

A 2010 study found that USDA failed to complete field inspections for 28 percent of suspect claims and did not give insurance companies some of the data they might be able to use to deny fraudulent claims. And just last week, federal investigators identified a massive federal crop insurance scheme trying to steal more than $100 million from the federal program.

“The bottom line in my approach to the budget  is the money isn’t there so we can’t keep spending it,” said Begich. “If my colleagues don’t come together and agree to cut the unnecessary spending where we can, we are going to be facing much tougher choices down the road. Failing to address our fiscal situation isn’t just a threat to our economic security, it could ultimately threaten our national security and so many other critical programs and services that we take for granted.”

In addition to the amendments detailed above, Begich also worked closely with Republican Sens. Rand Paul and Saxby Chambliss to introduce a separate bill today targeting wasteful spending in federal agencies. Currently all federal agencies are required to spend all the money Congress appropriates, but this bill would create incentives for employee suggestions that would effectively identify waste, fraud, mismanagement, unneeded budget authority, and surplus funds that would ultimately be returned to the Treasury. 

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