Gone in 60 seconds!…or, How I Balanced the Budget


Congress 'cutting' the budget

Inquiring minds are agreeing with Rueters’ James Pethokoukis, an economists who thinks that balancing the budget is much easier than ‘the powers that be’ suggest. All Mr. Pethokoukis did was use the budget simulator cooked up over at the NYTimes Web site which starts out with a projected 2015 deficit of $418 billion and grows to a projected 2030 deficit of $1.355 trillion.

All he did was make a few budget cuts, which he says, took less than a minute:

1. Eliminated earmarks ($14 billion)

2. Cut the pay of civilian workers by 5 percent ($17 billion)

3. Reduced the federal workforce by 10 percent ($15 billion)

4. Reduced nuclear arsenal and space spending ($38 billion)

5. Reduce military to pre-Iraq War size and further reduce troops in Asia and Europe ($49 billion)

6. Reduce Navy and Air Force fleets ($24 billion)

7. Cancel or delay some weapons programs ($18 billion)

8. Reduce the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to 60,000 by 2015 ($149 billion)

9. Enact medical malpractice reform ($13 billion)

10. Increase the Medicare eligibility age to 68 ($56 billion)

11. Reduce the tax break for employer-provided health insurance ($157 billion)

12. Cap Medicare growth starting in 2013 ($562 billion)

13. Raise the Social Security retirement age to 70 ($247 billion)

14. Reduce Social Security benefits for those with high incomes ($54 billion)

15. Tighten eligibility for disability ($17 billion)

16. Use an alternate measure for inflation ($82 billion)

Granted there may be some disagreement on a few specifics, but it is amazing how the numbers begin to add up. What really is stunning is what Mr. Pethokoukis didn’t touch yet, namely: education and foriegn aide to name just two.

His conclusions:

In the end, my budget would have a minuscule 2015 deficit of $80 billion and a 2030 surplus of $187 billion. Now I would have preferred an option for deeper domestic spending cuts. The Heritage Foundation has ideas for over $300 billion worth. And I think eliminating hundreds of billions of tax breaks and lowering tax rates across the board would boost growth and revenue.

This could become a new pastime. A kind of ‘hot-stove’ league or ‘fantasy government’ league where people play out their fiscal fantasies balancing their own federal budgets.

For your own ‘whack’ at the budget, click here.

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