Heidi Heitkamp Really Hopes You Won’t Do The Math On Her Balanced Budget Proposal
Does 2+2 add up to 4 in Heidi Heitkamp’s universe?
One has to wonder, because what she proposes for a balanced budget solution isn’t just objectionable from the perspective of conservative ideology. It’s wrong on basic math.
“Instead of actually making the tough decisions, Congress simply kicks the can down the road with gimmicks that fail to produce meaningful solutions,” writes Heitkamp in the Grand Forks Herald which is an odd thing to say for someone who then goes on to suggest (apparently with a straight face) pay freezes for Congress as long as there isn’t a balanced budget as a solution.
As pleasing as pay freezes might be from a populist sort of, as a measure to reduce to the deficit they a drop in the bucket. Congressional pay is a rounding error in terms of the overall national budget.
To be fair, Heitkamp has other proposals too. In addition to the $6 billion that Heitkamp claims will be saved with the pay freeze, she also proposes letting Medicare negotiate for prescription drugs (she claims that will save $200 billion) and implementing President Obama’s “Buffet Rule” tax hikes (which she claims will bring in another $46 billion in revenues).
Interesting that even as Heitkamp proposes implementing some of the President’s policies she doesn’t mention him by name.
Anyway, we’re talking about a total of $252 billion in cost savings and new revenues proposed by Heitkamp if we take everything at face value (which we shouldn’t, but that’s a subject for another post). Given that the federal budget deficit is $1.329 trillion, that leaves us with $1.07 trillion in deficits.
Now, Heitkamp may have further budget proposals, but one ting she has made clear is that she wants to balance the budget without touching Social Security and Medicare (beyond the prescription drug reform already mentioned). She doesn’t want to put “Medicare and Social Security on the chopping block,” as she writes in her editorial.
The total US budget is roughly $3.5 trillion. Federal spending on Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the interest on the national debt make up just over 50% of that leaving us with $1.7 trillion in spending from which Heitkamp, using her own standards, can cut from.
To balance the budget, we’d have to cut $1.07 trillion in spending from that $1.7 trillion that’s left after Heitkamp sets aside all the things she won’t cut.
That leaves us with just $630 billion from which to fund the entire federal government – military and everything – that isn’t Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid or interest on the national debt.
Now, I’m all for big reductions in federal government, but I don’t think any serious person thinks we can run the federal government for just $630 billion. Yet that’s exactly what Heitkamp wants us to do.
Of course, Heitkamp isn’t serious about her call for a balanced budget. It’s just a campaign trail promise intended to make her look like a fiscally conservative Democrat, and she makes it in the hope that we’re just ignorant enough of the nation’s finances not to check her math.
(All debt and budget figures pulled from USDebtClock.org).Tags: balanced budget, deficits, Heidi Heitkamp, national debt, North Dakota News