What are the odds that Democrats would actually adopt Republican Senator Tom Coburn's amendment? I won't be holding my breath:
The Senate is debating a $1.9 trillion increase in the nation's debt limit that would lift Treasury's legal borrowing ceiling to $14.3 trillion. After a $290 billion debt-limit raise last month, this giant new increase is intended to get Democrats past November's election without another reminder to voters of how much debt their spending is piling up.
Mr. Coburn has a better idea: Cut spending to a level that would allow the government to stay beneath the current debt ceiling for a few more months. President Obama promised in his campaign to eliminate "unnecessary redundancy" in government, so Mr. Coburn is calling for at least $20 billion in spending cuts on programs that are duplicated across federal agencies. That's about 4% of nondefense discretionary spending, and Mr. Coburn's amendment identifies at least 640 programs that could be consolidated.
A few examples: A 2009 Government Accountability Office report found 69 early education programs, administered by nine different agencies. A 2003 GAO report found 44 job training programs, also administered by nine agencies. The Department of Education runs 14 separate programs for foreign study exchanges. Taxpayers spend more than $300 million annually on at least nine Agriculture Department programs to develop biofuels. Too bad we can't pay for all this with wood chips.