The ACP Advocate Blog
by Bob Doherty
Friday, February 24, 2012
The Candidates offer up a budget fantasyland
“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?”
- Alice, from Lewis Carroll’s Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass, 1865
Alice could have been talking about the budget fantasyland conjured up by the 2012 presidential candidates.
Recall that in his Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union address, Governor Mitch Daniels (R-IN) promised that if the GOP prevails in the election, 2012 will be “the year we strike out boldly not merely to avert national bankruptcy but to say to a new generation that America is still the world's premier land of opportunity.”
So you might assume then that the Republican presidential candidates have plans to reduce the debt, right?
You might, but you would be wrong.
“The national debt would balloon under tax policies championed by three of the four major Republican candidates for president,” according to an independent study by the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB), reported in yesterday’s Washington Post. Former Pennsylvania Senator Santorum would add $4.5 trillion and former House speaker Newt Gingrich would add $7 trillion to the debt by 2021, “pushing the portion of the debt held by outside investors to well over 100 percent of the overall economy,” writes the Post. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's plan would add about $2.6 trillion.
The only Republican with a plan to lower the debt is Congressman Ron Paul, who proposes even bigger cuts in government programs than the revenue that would be lost from lower taxes, bringing down the debt by $2 trillion over the next decade. But Paul assumes a wholesale dismantling of most federal agencies and an end to entitlements—cuts that are not likely to be accepted by a majority of voters or ever be enacted by Congress.
The fact that three of the four GOP candidates would add trillions to the debt doesn’t let President Obama off the hook. In a separate analysis, CRFB finds that the under the President’s proposed FY 2013 budget request, “deficits would total $6.7 trillion (3.3 percent of GDP), with debt reaching $19.5 trillion (76 percent of GDP)” by 2022.
This, from a president who said that “if we don’t act, the growing debt will eventually crowd out everything else, preventing us from investing in things like education, or sustaining programs like Medicare.”
To recap, this is the year when:
the country will elect a new President from a Republican party that promises to “avert national bankruptcy”
we will re-elect a President from the Democratic party who said “if we don’t act, the growing debt will eventually crowd out everything else”
and this is how much more their tax and spending plans would add to the public debt:
Romney: +$2.6 trillion
Santorum: +$4.5 trillion
Obama: +$6.7 trillion
Gingrich: +$7 trillion
“If [they] had a world of [their] own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?
Today’s question: Will the voters see through the candidate’s budget fantasyland and demand real answers on taxes and spending?
About the Author
Bob Doherty is Senior Vice President, American College of Physicians Government Affairs and Public Policy; Author of the ACP Advocate Blog
Email Bob Doherty: TheACPAdvocateblog@acponline.org.Follow @BobDohertyACP
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