Remember the 1993 movie Dave? Kevin Kline's character, masquerading as the president, sneaks his accountant friend into the Oval Office to help balance the entire federal budget -- which they accomplish through a slew of nickel-and-dime nips and tucks.
A recent report, titled "Toward Common Ground," reads much like that.
Often -- but not often enough -- lawmakers grab whips and chairs to try taming the big budget monsters, like bloated entitlements. But further substantial savings can be realized by chipping away at comparatively smaller projects.
That's the advice from the two strange bedfellows that collaborated on the report: the Ralph Nader-spawned U.S. Public Interest Research Group and the fiscally hawkish National Taxpayers Union.
The advice? Spend less -- and when you do , spend more intelligently. A whopping $354 billion can be saved just by reforming inefficient contract and acquisition procedures; remember the legendary $437 Pentagon hammer from the 1980s?
Also, cut programs you don't need, and improve the ones you want to keep. From the report: By recalibrating payments to cover actual costs for Medicare's graduate medical education program, $22 billion can be saved.
Eyeing the big picture is good, but minding the smaller brushstrokes will paint a better budgetary landscape for the government. Congress should heed the best parts of this new report.