The Washington Post’s editors are becoming skeptical of the credibility of the “balanced approach” for fiscal reform:
We’ve said time and again that revenue must rise. The latest Republican position on taxes, while an improvement, remains inadequate. GOP leaders now admit the need for more revenue, but they refuse to say how they would obtain it. Given the political difficulty of limiting any deduction or loophole, their supposed commitment to tax reform isn’t worth much without specifics.
But the underlying fiscal problem is that federal expenditures are slated to rise faster than economic growth because of rising health-care costs and an aging population. The long-term drivers are Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and subsidies for the health-care exchanges established by the Affordable Care Act.
The budget can’t be brought even remotely into balance solely by taxing the top 1% or 2% of income earners and cuts in defense spending. If you add the income realized by the tax increases on the table and the savings realized cutting the defense budget in half (something I’ve advocated but which isn’t even remotely foreseeable), it doesn’t amount to half the deficit. 4% or 5% growth rates, something included in most budget-balancing projections, are figments of the imagination. Or outright lies, depending.
With a truly balanced approach to deficit reduction, tax increases must extend down to the top quintile (and maybe the top two quintiles) of income earners. That’s people earning more than $60,000 in round numbers. There must be serious defense spending cuts which means manpower cuts which means doing less. There must be new cuts in entitlements (Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare). Counting the old cuts twice won’t do it.
Or we must plan to run high deficits for the foreseeable future.
That’s not partisanship. That’s mathematics.