Talk is cheap; popular programs aren't | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Talk is cheap; popular programs aren't

Posted By on Wed, Sep 29, 2010 at 6:20 AM

Republicans talk a good game — tax cuts (very specifically detailed) and spending cuts (not so specific.) An analysis in NY Times today:

The detailed plan would start in the same place that Republican campaign rhetoric does, with rooting out waste and bloat. Some tasks, like mail delivery and air traffic control, could be privatized. The federal work force could be reduced, and pay for federal workers could be cut. Federal aid to states could be cut, too.

But then comes the crucial difference.

Actual fiscal conservatives acknowledge that these steps do not come anywhere close to solving the long-term deficit. By 2035, the deficit (even without counting interest payments on the federal debt) is on course to reach $1.9 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office. If you reduced domestic discretionary spending to its share of the economy under Ronald Reagan and then eviscerated it an additional 20 percent, you would shrink the deficit by all of $100 billion.

The bulk of the deficit problem instead comes from three popular programs, Medicare, Social Security and the military, and they happen to be the ones the Republican pledge exempts from cuts. But it’s impossible to fix the deficit without making cuts to these programs or raising taxes. To suggest otherwise is to claim that 10 minus 1 equals 5.

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