THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION
Government spending has increased considerably over the past decade, and, unless a dramatic shift occurs, spending will continue to grow at unsustainable rates. Alleviating the huge debt burden that the government is placing on future generations, that is, reining in federal spending, must be a priority for Congress. Congress must make prudent cuts in the fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget and examine the role of each government agency. One good place to start is to cut the wasteful, inefficient, and unnecessary spending at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
Congress’s ultimate objective should be to eliminate any Department of Energy function that does not support a critical national interest unmet by the private sec- tor. This objective will require a broad reorganization, and could very well result in the elimination of the entire department. Elimination, however, should not be the immediate policy goal. A graduated approach that begins with reining in spending would likely enjoy bipartisan support and provide a foundation for further reform.
The Department of Energy’s budget grew from $15 billion in FY 2000 to $25.7 billion in FY 2011—a staggering 71 percent increase in only one decade. Many government programs included in various Presidents’ annual DOE budgets evolved from basic research and development to attempts at commercialization better left to the private sector. Other programs are politically correct pet projects of various Members of Congress that have little business being supported by taxpayers. The private sector is much better at allocating resources and developing energy technologies than government-directed initiatives. Such wasteful use of taxpayer money provides Congress an opportunity to significantly scale back or eliminate a number of government energy programs and return the Department of Energy to its traditional mission of promoting national and economic energy security and focus on areas that meet a critical national objective.
The budget cuts proposed in this paper apply to President Barack Obama’s FY 2013 budget proposal of allocating $27.2 billion to the Department of Energy. The proposed cuts would save $5.5 billion com- pared to President Obama’s FY 2013 budget request and save $5.3 billion compared to the FY 2012 enacted budget.
About The Heritage Foundation
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