Not a chance. House Republicans have set themselves up for failure once again by setting this as their next goal, particularly by using spending cuts alone. Paul Ryan’s own budget only reached a balance by 2040, and was totally unworkable due to the extreme manner it went about voucher-izing Medicare. CNN Money:
…for House Republicans to reach a balanced budget within 10 years — and to do so only through spending cuts, since they’ve ruled out raising any more tax revenue — they would have to do much more, and sooner…
…One way to get to a balanced budget faster might be to enact Ryan’s Medicare premium-support model in 2018, five years earlier than in his previous budget, said Marc Goldwein, senior policy director at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
Or reduce Medicare provider payments. Or raise current retirees’ Medicare cost-sharing.
Or all of the above.
Independent deficit hawks aren’t pushing for a balanced budget within a decade because it would require drastic changes that could hurt the economy and couldn’t fully address long-term drivers of debt. At the same time, they say Democrats’ goal of stabilizing the debt is only a first step. Health care costs must be brought down and entitlement programs reformed or the debt would soon start growing again.
Now, if they would have struck a grand bargain during the fiscal cliff, perhaps we would have been closer to a balanced budget.
Ironically, given Republicans’ opposition to raising taxes, Ryan’s job will be made somewhat easier this year by the more than $600 billion in new revenue that will be raised thanks to the fiscal cliff deal that Congress passed over New Year’s.
For instance, Ryan’s budget last year would have racked up a roughly $250 billion deficit in 2022. The new revenue would reduce that to about $130 billion, according to estimates from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
In the end, by refusing any tax increases, the GOP had made a balanced budget virtually impossible. Give it a shot yourself. It’s exceptionally difficult even in theory to balance the budget through spending cuts alone. Factor in the fact that even the Tea Party doesn’t want Medicare or Social Security cuts and a balanced budget becomes impossible.