Our nation has a swelling multi-trillion dollar deficit, and there’s no subject that has attracted more attention from Congress than the effort to pare it down. When the Congress raised the debt ceiling in August, it created a special 12-member committee tasked with developing a package to reduce the deficit by about $1.5 trillion over the next decade. If the Congress fails to approve the cuts presented by the “super committee,” then automatic spending cuts take effect. So either way, that amount is set to be cut from the federal budget.
Paring this enormous sum from the budget, even staggered over 10 years, is going to mean that even some politically popular programs are likely to take a huge hit. It’s going to be hard to reach the overall goal without looking at defense spending, tax reform, Social Security, and Medicare.
But we expect the Congress will also take a look at a wide range of more modest-sized programs, and by aggregating these savings, find billions more in reductions. The HSUS has some great ideas. We are recommending the Congress revamp four programs that can provide more than $1 billion in savings and also save the lives of countless animals in the process—you can take action here to support these proposals.
Ending the Warehousing and Use of Chimpanzees in Invasive Research
By taking chimps out of laboratory cages and moving them into less-costly, more natural sanctuaries, we can save $300 million over the next decade. The chimps are not only suffering in the labs, but there’s hardly a good reason to keep warehousing them. Their usefulness in research is marginal at best. This week an editorial in Scientific American called for an end to the research, and there are bipartisan bills in Congress to achieve this outcome. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is also reviewing an HSUS petition that would list all chimpanzees as endangered, and if it did that, would prevent most uses of chimps in invasive experiments and eliminate their abuse in entertainment or the exotic pet trade.
Revamping the Wild Horse and Burro Program
The Bureau of Land Management has been compounding its fiscal mess each year by rounding up and removing thousands of wild horses and burros from our public lands. It does not have the capacity to adopt out nearly as many animals as it removes from the range, and that has resulted in a swelling captive population that must be pastured and fed, with all of the attendant administrative costs. By demanding that BLM manage wild horses through the use of a contraceptive vaccine, we can achieve limits on wild horse populations but also stop the expensive and stressful round-ups and removals, along with the need for ongoing care of captive horses. If the Congress accedes to this plan, we can drop the deficit by an additional $172 million over 10 years.
Stopping Lethal Predator Control
The federal government has no business conducting a private predator-killing program for the benefit of ranchers and other resource-users. Each year, with an arsenal of traps, poisons, and aerial gunning, federal agents intentionally kill millions of wild animals, along with non-target animals such as endangered species and family pets, at the expense of taxpayers. By halting lethal predator control, but maintaining a program that can resolve human-wildlife conflicts in non-lethal ways, we can drop the deficit by at least an additional $110 million over 10 years. This cut has already been endorsed by the National Taxpayers Union and a host of environmental organizations.
Moving Toward 21st Century Testing
The HSUS has long supported corporations developing alternative methods to traditional animal tests for chemical risk assessment. Many of these new methods—such as computational, cellular, and molecular tools—are significantly faster, cheaper, and more reliable than the animal tests. The National Academies examined this issue and called on the federal government to move toward 21st century scientific methods and away from unreliable conventional animal testing. We are proposing a multi-agency commitment to these new testing methods and the biggest savings of them all: $500 million over 10 years.
The Congress is going to have to make some tough choices in the weeks ahead. While there are some political defenders of the above-mentioned programs, taking on these cuts should be less politically challenging than a raft of other actions Congress must take. This package of spending cuts will improve government efficiency and tangibly improve animal welfare in our nation. It’s time to find a new way forward, and rein in this profligate misuse of taxpayer dollars. Please take action today to support these cuts.