First, some basics: The “deficit” is the amount of money the government spends that it does not have, i.e., borrows. The “national debt” is the cumulative amount of money the government has borrowed- and that you and I and our children will be required to pay back. So, if you have a deficit of $500 billion dollars three years in a row, you will add $1.5 trillion dollars to the national debt (plus accumulated interest). When you hear the word “deficit,” substitute “borrowed money.”
“Deficit reduction” means borrowing less than was borrowed the preceding year, or if you’re a politician, it can also mean borrowing less than you planned on spending. It not only does not reduce the national debt, but actually continues to add to it - unless you reduce the deficit to zero - however even then, the debt would continue to increase due to interest, since no extra money is being raised to pay down the debt.
A “balanced budget” means you spend nearly exactly the amount of money you raise in taxes. This would be a good idea if you weren’t already bankrupt.
Pols in both parties like to switch back and forth talking about deficits and debt to try to confuse you - so don’t be fooled. If there is any deficit at all, the national debt is being added to; even if the deficit is smaller than last year.
Both parties put forward budgets that project out over a ten-year period, making all sorts of unsupportable predictions about how much tax revenue the government will raise and the growth of the economy. Moreover, presidents can last only eight years and congress is up for grabs every two, and the budget needs to be passed every year.
New trick: This year’s proposals refer to a great extent about the national debt as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP). This provides another way to obscure the very simple calculus of money-in vs. money-out.
The president’s proposed budget increases spending and adds to the national debt every year through 2025. The proposal would find us in 2025 with a budget $2.4 trillion dollars higher than the one we have today, and the national debt (by his own estimate) would soar to a suffocating $26 trillion.
The president’s budget trumpets $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction. This is either a simple lie or it is based upon a reduction in previously planned increases; the proposal does not explain. The president’s budget clearly indicates the annual deficit increasing every single year through 2025. Remember, reducing the deficit does not reduce our national debt by one penny.
The Republican proposal also increases spending and adds to the national debt every single year through 2025, although in smaller amounts than the president’s proposed budget. Following the Republican plan would find us with a budget “only” $1.3 trillion over today’s spending levels. The Republican plan does not provide projected national debt numbers, but following the math in the president’s proposal, I’d spitball the number at about $22 trillion (what difference is a few hundred billion when you’re already bankrupt?).
The Republican plan claims to balance the budget in ten years, which it does - almost. The budget in 2025 calls for borrowing about $50 million dollars, but they use the GDP trick to turn that into a surplus.
The Republican summary of their plan claims that it cuts spending by $5.5 trillion; however, as stated above, their budget proposes spending increases every year for the entire ten-year period. We are left to guess that the supposed “cuts” are likely conjured up by lowering planned increases in spending.
Unconstitutional Government Rolls On
Both budget proposals continue to fund an endless array of unconstitutional agencies and activities of the federal government, from job training and housing assistance, to Food Stamps and other welfare giveaways. Neither proposal does anything about the unsustainable, runaway expenses of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, which devour more than half of the entire federal budget.
The rule of the Republicrats continues unabated, as does the unconstitutional, suffocating national government they’ve created. The budget battle will provide great political theater, with your favorite pols posturing and preening for the cameras, but their shared system for controlling our lives will remain unchanged until the people decide to put an end to it.