Budget Options

Reports on Budget Options

To help inform lawmakers about the budgetary implications of various approaches to altering federal policies, CBO periodically issues a volume of policy options (called Options for Reducing the Deficit) covering a broad range of issues as well as separate reports that include options for changing federal tax and spending policies in particular areas. The options, which are accessible from this page, are derived from many sources and reflect a range of possibilities. For each option, CBO presents an estimate of its effects on the budget but makes no recommendations. Inclusion or exclusion of any particular option does not imply an endorsement or rejection by CBO. This search is updated regularly to include only the most recent version of a particular option.

Title Latest Estimate
Adopt a Voucher Plan and Slow the Growth of Federal Contributions for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program
Cancel Development and Production of the New Missile in the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent Program
Cancel Plans to Purchase Additional F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and Instead Purchase F-16s and F/A-18s
Cancel the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense System
Cancel the Long-Range Standoff Weapon
Cap Increases in Basic Pay for Military Service Members
Change the Cost-Sharing Rules for Medicare and Restrict Medigap Insurance
Change the National Flood Insurance Program
Change the Tax Treatment of Capital Gains From Sales of Inherited Assets
Consolidate and Reduce Federal Payments for Graduate Medical Education at Teaching Hospitals
Convert Multiple Assistance Programs for Lower-Income People Into Smaller Block Grants to States
Convert the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage Program Into a Direct Loan Program
Curtail the Deduction for Charitable Giving
Defer Development of the B-21 Bomber
Divest Two Agencies of Their Electric Transmission Assets
Eliminate Certain Forest Service Programs
Eliminate Certain Tax Preferences for Education Expenses
Eliminate Eligibility for Starting Social Security Disability Benefits at Age 62 or Later
Eliminate Federal Funding for National Community Service 
Eliminate Funding for Amtrak and the Essential Air Service Program
Eliminate Head Start
Eliminate Human Space Exploration Programs
Eliminate Itemized Deductions
Eliminate or Modify Head-of-Household Filing Status 
Eliminate or Reduce the Add-On to Pell Grants, Which Is Funded With Mandatory Spending
Eliminate Subsidies for Certain Meals in the National School Lunch, School Breakfast, and Child and Adult Care Food Programs
Eliminate Supplemental Security Income Benefits for Disabled Children
Eliminate the Federal Transit Administration
Eliminate the International Trade Administration's Trade-Promotion Activities
Eliminate the Special Retirement Supplement for New Federal Retirees
Eliminate the Tax Exemption for New Qualified Private Activity Bonds
Eliminate Title I Agriculture Programs
End Enrollment in VA Medical Care for Veterans in Priority Groups 7 and 8
End VA’s Individual Unemployability Payments to Disabled Veterans at the Full Retirement Age for Social Security
Establish Caps on Federal Spending for Medicaid
Expand Social Security Coverage to Include Newly Hired State and Local Government Employees
Expand the Base of the Net Investment Income Tax to Include the Income of Active Participants in S Corporations and Limited Partnerships
Further Limit Annual Contributions to Retirement Plans
Impose a 5 Percent Value-Added Tax
Impose a Fee on Large Financial Institutions
Impose a Tax on Emissions of Greenhouse Gases
Impose a Tax on Financial Transactions
Impose an Excise Tax on Overland Freight Transport
Impose Fees to Cover the Costs of Government Regulations and Charge for Services Provided to the Private Sector
Include Disability Payments From the Department of Veterans Affairs in Taxable Income
Include Employer-Paid Premiums for Income Replacement Insurance in Employees’ Taxable Income
Increase All Taxes on Alcoholic Beverages to $16 per Proof Gallon and Index for Inflation
Increase Appropriations for the Internal Revenue Service’s Enforcement Initiatives
Increase Excise Taxes on Motor Fuels and Index for Inflation
Increase Federal Civilian Employees’ Contributions to the Federal Employees Retirement System
Increase Individual Income Tax Rates
Increase Payments by Tenants in Federally Assisted Housing
Increase Premiums for Parts B and D of Medicare
Increase Taxes That Finance the Federal Share of the Unemployment Insurance System
Increase the Corporate Income Tax Rate by 1 Percentage Point
Increase the Excise Tax on Tobacco Products by 50 Percent
Increase the Maximum Taxable Earnings for the Social Security Payroll Tax
Increase the Passenger Fee for Aviation Security
Increase the Payroll Tax Rate for Medicare Hospital Insurance 
Increase the Payroll Tax Rate for Social Security
Introduce Enrollment Fees Under TRICARE for Life
Introduce Minimum Out-of-Pocket Requirements Under TRICARE for Life
Limit ARC and PLC Payment Acres to 30 Percent of Base Acres
Limit Enrollment in the Department of Agriculture’s Conservation Programs
Limit Forgiveness of Graduate Student Loans
Limit Highway and Transit Funding to Expected Revenues
Limit States’ Taxes on Health Care Providers
Limit the Number of Cities Receiving Urban Areas Security Initiative Grants
Link Initial Social Security Benefits to Average Prices Instead of Average Earnings
Lower the Investment Income Limit for the Earned Income Tax Credit and Extend That Limit to the Refundable Portion of the Child Tax Credit
Make Social Security’s Benefit Structure More Progressive
Modify Payments to Medicare Advantage Plans for Health Risk
Modify TRICARE Enrollment Fees and Cost Sharing for Working-Age Military Retirees
Narrow Eligibility for VA’s Disability Compensation by Excluding Veterans With Low Disability Ratings
Narrow Eligibility for Veterans’ Disability Compensation by Excluding Certain Disabilities Unrelated to Military Duties
Raise Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s Guarantee Fees and Decrease their Eligible Loan Limits
Raise the Age of Eligibility for Medicare to 67
Raise the Full Retirement Age for Social Security
Raise the Tax Rates on Long-Term Capital Gains and Qualified Dividends by 2 Percentage Points and Adjust Tax Brackets
Reduce Appropriations for Global Health to Their Level in 2000
Reduce Department of Energy Funding for Energy Technology Development
Reduce DoD’s Operation and Maintenance Appropriation (Excluding Funding for the Defense Health Program) 
Reduce Federal Medicaid Matching Rates
Reduce Funding for Certain Grants to State and Local Governments
Reduce Funding for International Affairs Programs
Reduce Funding for Naval Ship Construction to Historical Levels 
Reduce Funding for the Housing Choice Voucher Program or Eliminate the Program
Reduce Medicare’s Coverage of Bad Debt
Reduce or Eliminate Public Service Loan Forgiveness
Reduce or Eliminate Subsidized Loans for Undergraduate Students
Reduce Pension Benefits for New Federal Retirees
Reduce Quality Bonus Payments to Medicare Advantage Plans
Reduce Subsidies in the Crop Insurance Program
Reduce TANF’s State Family Assistance Grant by 10 Percent
Reduce Tax Subsidies for Employment-Based Health Insurance
Reduce the Annual Across-the-Board Adjustment for Federal Civilian Employees’ Pay
Reduce the Basic Allowance for Housing to 80 Percent of Average Housing Costs
Reduce the Department of Defense’s Budget
Reduce the Size of the Bomber Force by Retiring the B-1B
Reduce the Size of the Federal Workforce Through Attrition
Reduce the Size of the Fighter Force by Retiring the F-22
Reduce the Size of the Nuclear Triad
Reduce VA’s Disability Benefits to Veterans Who Are Older Than the Full Retirement Age for Social Security
Remove the Cap on Interest Rates for Student Loans
Repeal Certain Tax Preferences for Energy and Natural Resource–Based Industries
Repeal the Davis-Bacon Act
Repeal the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit
Repeal the “LIFO” and “Lower of Cost or Market” Inventory Accounting Methods
Replace Some Military Personnel With Civilian Employees
Require Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit Claimants to Have a Social Security Number That Is Valid for Employment
Require Half of Advertising Expenses to Be Amortized Over 5 or 10 Years
Require Manufacturers to Pay a Minimum Rebate on Drugs Covered Under Part D of Medicare for Low-Income Beneficiaries
Require Social Security Disability Insurance Applicants to Have Worked More in Recent Years
Stop Building Ford Class Aircraft Carriers
Tax All Pass-Through Business Owners Under SECA and Impose a Material Participation Standard
Tax Carried Interest as Ordinary Income
Tax Gains from Derivatives as Ordinary Income on a Mark-to-Market Basis
Tax Social Security and Railroad Retirement Benefits in the Same Way That Distributions From Defined Benefit Pensions Are Taxed
Tighten Eligibility for Pell Grants
Tighten Eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
Use an Alternative Measure of Inflation to Index Social Security and Other Mandatory Programs
Adjust DoD’s and DOE’s Plans for Modernizing Nuclear Forces
Convert Medicare to a Premium Support System
Change FHA’s Exposure to Risk From Single-Family Mortgage Guarantees
Change Federal Civilian Employees’ Contributions to the Federal Employees Retirement System
End Congressional Direction of Medical Research in the Department of Defense
Scanning and Imaging More Shipping Containers Bound for or Arriving at U.S. Ports
Eliminate Capital Investment Grants for Transit Systems
Eliminate Grants to Large and Medium-Sized Airports
Reduce Federal Funding for the Arts and Humanities
Reduce the Number of Ballistic Missile Submarines
Eliminate Exchange Subsidies for People With Income Over 300 Percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines
Restrict Pell Grants to Students Who Meet Academic Progress Requirements
Restrict Pell Grants to Students Who Meet More Stringent Academic Eligibility Requirements
Consolidate the Department of Defense's Retail Activities and Provide a Grocery Allowance to Service Members