A gamble by Speaker John Boehner and budget chairman Paul Ryan to balance the budget in 10 years would make deeper cuts to popular programs than ever proposed before, even more so than Ryan’s original plan. Johnathan Chait correctly calls it a “fanciful.”
Moving that timetable up by seventeen years changes the plausibility level from Level: Unicorn to Level: Unicorn Being Ridden By Santa Claus Who Has Lost 50 Pounds Through One Weird Trick. (That’s why Santa’s riding a unicorn now — otherwise, he’d be far too corpulent.)
Some actual budget wonks are surely working to show this as we speak, but in the meantime, some rough, rough math. According to Richard Kogan of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, balancing the budget in 2023 will require an estimated $800 billion in savings that year.
…if you assume that Republicans aren’t going to actually figure out how to go further than the domestic discretionary cuts they’ve already voted for — I doubt they can actually carry those out — then the available pool of spending is the $900 billion-some dollars spent on programs for the poor and sick: Medicaid, food stamps, etc. So we’re looking at close to a 90 percent spending cut on programs for the poor and sick. I suppose Paul Ryan could spin this as a super-compassionate plan to help starving children and people with awful diseases learn to stop being moochers and take care of themselves.