Over the holiday weekend, in a column for the Great Plains Examiner, Democrat Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp made more of her phony “balanced budget” promises.
Fiscal discipline won’t come by itself. That’s why I am committed to supporting a balanced budget amendment that doesn’t put Medicare and Social Security on the chopping block.
Unfortunately, this is not the amendment supported by my likely opponent, Rep. Rick Berg. An independent analysis found that his plan would force 25 percent cuts to programs like Social Security and Medicare.
Heitkamp is counting on the tried-and-true tactics of scaring senior citizens to put her campaign over the top against Rick Berg, but will it work?
Only if North Dakotans don’t do the math on what Heitkamp is saying. She says she wants a balanced budget amendment that excludes Social Security and Medicare. Let’s take a look at how that would shake out. This chart shows how federal spending was allocated in 2011:
Mandatory federal spending and the interest on the national debt plus spending on Social Security and Medicare (which Heitkamp doesn’t want touched) adds up to 62% of the federal budget, or $2.252 trillion. The remaining $1.346 trillion in our national budget is military spending and discretionary spending (highways, national parks, the FBI, etc., etc.).
The federal budget deficit in FY2011 was $1.3 trillion.
One needn’t be a genius at mathematics to understand that balancing the budget on Heidi Heitkamp’s terms would require eliminating the entirety of the nation’s military and discretionary spending and leave us with only spending on Medicare, Social Security and the interest on the national debt.
Clearly, this isn’t a serious proposal.
Now, to be fair, Heitkamp has proposed some revenue increases and cost reductions in the past. According to a column she wrote for the Grand Forks Herald she wants to freeze congressional pay, allow Medicare to “negotiate” costs for prescription drugs and implement President Obama’s “Buffet Rule” tax hikes. According to Heitkamp, this would bring some $252 billion in revenue increases and cost savings to the federal budget.
Even if we stipulate to Heitkamp’s math on these savings/revenue increases (and she vastly overestimates them), we’re really going to run the military and the rest of the nation’s discretionary spending on $252 billion?
To be sure, there are plenty of cuts to be made to discretionary/military spending, but any candidate saying they want to balance the budget without touching the fiscal elephants in the room which are our out-of-control entitlement programs is a candidate not worth taking seriously.