Yesterday, as we’ve discussed here extensively, House Republicans released their “Pledge to America,” which contains the policy steps they would supposedly take immediately, were they so empowered. The document is chock-full of lofty rhetoric about reducing the size of government, but while it lays out plenty of budget-busting tax cuts — to the tune of $4 trillion — it has precious little in terms of actual spending cuts.
In fact, its lead author, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), couldn’t identify a single program he’d cut from the federal budget during a cable television appearance today. And Republicans like House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and the Republican budget chief, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), have been careful not to explicitly say that the Pledge, by itself, will eliminate the deficit or balance the budget. Other Republicans though, have seen nothing wrong with asserting that the plan would cause the deficit to disappear and lead to a smaller federal debt:
Rep. Charles Djou (R-HI) “says the proposals will reduce annual budget deficits and lead to a smaller national debt.”
Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO): “We have a credible plan to rein in the budget deficit.”
Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA): “As massive debt threatens the prosperity of our children and grandchildren, we have a credible plan to rein in the budget deficit.”
However, even if we take the Republicans at their word that they’ll actually cut every dollar they say they will in the Pledge, the plan doesn’t come anywhere close to eliminating the deficit. As Michael Ettlinger and Michael Linden calculated:
The “Pledge to America” budget would mean $11.1 trillion in deficits over the next 10 years. By 2020, the federal budget deficit would be 6.3 percent of gross domestic product, the federal debt would exceed 93 percent of GDP, and interest payments on the debt would be more than $1 trillion a year. The budget deficit would be about $200 billion larger in 2020 under the “Pledge to America” plan than it would be under President Barack Obama’s budget, and over the next 10 years deficits would be $1.5 trillion higher than under the president’s budget.
Were the Pledge implemented, federal revenue would be about 16.7 percent of GDP; the last time that the federal budget was balanced, 20 percent of GDP was raised in revenue.
And there’s really no reason to believe that the cuts laid out in the Pledge would actually ever be made, as they are achieved through across-the-board reductions, not specific program cuts. And when push comes to shove, will the GOP really cut into discretionary programs like the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and federal highway funding? If not, that will require even larger cuts in other programs to achieve the savings they want, which still don’t come close to covering the cost of their massive tax cuts.
Click here for more on “Unpacking the GOP’s ‘Pledge to America’: The Who, What, When, Where and Why Behind Republican Irresponsibility.”