Green Scissors: Cutting Wasteful and Environmentally Harmful Spending, 2011

This year's Green Scissors report offers lawmakers and the public a starting place for spending reductions, including cuts to discretionary, mandatory and tax spending that also increase environmental protection. Perhaps even more importantly, Green Scissors 2011 offers a roadmap for how Congress can bridge the gap between ideologically diverse perspectives to begin moving towards deficit reduction in a productive fashion. Green Scissors 2011 represents the interests of four varied groups: Friends of the Earth, Public Citizen, Taxpayers for Common Sense and The Heartland Institute. While all four groups have different missions, histories, goals and ideas about the role of government, we all agree that we can begin to overcome our nation's budgetary and environmental woes by tackling spending that is not only wasteful, but environmentally harmful.

Building on last year's detailed cut lists, Green Scissors 2011 identifies more than $380 billion in wasteful government subsidies that are damaging to the environment and harming taxpayers. Wasteful government spending comes in many different forms. The most obvious are direct spending on discretionary programs and mandatory programs such as commodity crop payments. Slightly less transparent are tax expenditures, privileges written into the tax code, or below market giveaways of government resources like timber and hardrock minerals. Even more opaque is preferential government financing for harmful projects through bonding loans, long term contracting authority and loan guarantees, and risk reduction through government insurance and liability caps.