When Bill Clinton left the White House just 12 years ago, the federal budget deficit was quite literally gone, and the nation was running a surplus for the first time in a generation. After Republicans approved two massive tax breaks, expanded Medicare, put two wars on the national credit card, and crashed the economy, the fiscal mess Clinton had cleaned up was back.
We've seen some modest progress on this front, but even under the most optimistic of scenarios, a balanced budget is nowhere in sight.
That is, unless we adopt a new plan from three far-right senators, who've mapped out a way to get us back to 2001 figures in a hurry.
Members of the Senate Tea Party Caucus on Thursday announced a plan to balance the budget in five years, cutting spending by nearly $11 trillion compared to President Obama's budget.The plan, dubbed "A Platform to Revitalize America," is a wish list of conservative policies, none of which have any chance of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate or being signed into law by a liberal Democratic president.The ambitious blueprint would achieve a $111 billion surplus in fiscal year 2017."The whole point here is to show we can reasonably balance the budget within a five-year period," said Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), one of the sponsors of the plan.
Well, "reasonably" is a subjective term.
The plan, also endorsed by Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), would produce a surplus by 2017 by effectively repealing most of the 20th century.
The "Platform to Revitalize America" has it all figured out: Medicare would be privatized out of existence; Social Security eligibility would be restricted; while Medicaid, the State Children's Health Insurance Program, food stamps, and child nutrition programs would all be gutted through state block grants.
The federal departments of Commerce, Education, Energy, and Housing and Urban Development would also all be eliminated. Pentagon spending, by the way, would not be touched.
See how easy it is to balance the federal budget in hardly any time at all?