I think, actually, I’d like to slash this spending even more—but there was no option in the Times feature for a total withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan in 2011. Drawing our troops in both countries down to zero this year—and, obviously, ending this adventure in Libya—would save hundreds of billions more. I’d say we could add at least another $150 billion of savings for declaring victory and going home.
Foreign aid can only be cut in half—for a savings of $17 billion—according to The New York Times. We’d cut it all the way, achieving an additional $17 billion of savings.
I left Social Security largely intact, because most of the proposals to reform it are forms of redistributive taxation which I think aren’t a good idea. The only thing I cut here was $17 billion from the disability program, which is a relatively minor reduction that would only cut into states with the most generous programs for allowing disability benefits.
When we did this experiment in November, the largest savings came from Medicare, the government-provided health care for the elderly. Capping Medicare growth at GDP plus 1 percent would save $29 billion by 2015 and $562 billion by 2030. By raising the age qualification to 70, I’d take off another $104 billion over 20 years. And reducing the tax breaks for employer-provided health care—which would incentivize health-care consumers to put pricing pressure on providers—saves another $157 billion. Tack on malpractice reform and we’ve got another $13 billion in savings.
With those cuts alone, we managed to not only balance the budget—we’ve created a surplus. According to the Times, by 2030 I’d have a $30 billion surplus. The additional spending cuts—the ones The New York Times wouldn’t let us include in foreign wars and foreign aid—would bring the surplus up to around $200 billion.
I’d probably favor both raising some sort of bank tax and converting the mortgage interest deduction into a tax credit. According to the Times, this would give another $157 billion in revenue.
With an additional $357 billion in revenue, we could actually restore almost all the cuts to Medicare.
So, under this budget, we’d have no budget deficit in 2015 and none all the way out to 2030. The main thing we need to cut is wasteful government domestic spending and the unaffordable imperial military spending. Why does everyone act like this government budget stuff is so hard?
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