How to Achieve a Balanced U.S. Budget


President Trump’s proposed 2018 Budget lays out a plan to achieve a balanced budget over a ten year period. I strongly endorse this goal whether or not the Trump budget is a realistic way to get this done.
The virtue of the Trump budget is to tackle waste and inefficiency across many different domestic programs (see chart below).

Its main defect is that neither healthcare reform nor tax reform has yet been implemented and the cost and/or savings of these two major initiatives are not yet known.
In the meantime the only way to think about balancing the budget is conceptually in terms of how it might be done.  Barron’s economic analyst Gene Epstein has done this recently.

Mr. Epstein proposes:

  • $8.6 trillion worth of spending cuts over ten years, of which 40% would come from programs other than Social Security and healthcare. By achieving a balanced budget in ten years it would lower our public debt (on which we pay interest) from 77% today to 58% in 2027.
  • By raising the age limit for full SS benefits to 67 (already enacted) at a faster pace, and indexing initial benefits to price inflation rather than wage inflation, $200 billion can be saved over ten years. Another $300 billion can be saved by phasing in a 25% reduction in SSDI benefits.
  • Cutting the estimated improper payment rate for Medicare of 12.1% in half would save $400 billion over ten years. Raising the premiums for Medicare Part B and Part D to 35% of costs from the current 25% of costs would save $400 billion.
  • Another $600 billion would be saved by turning Medicaid into a block grant program to the states and giving the states much more flexibility in how it is spent.
  • $950 billion could be cut from the military budget by cutting back on overly expensive new weapon systems as well as closing unnecessary military bases, both foreign and domestic.
  • Many cuts in government subsidies to individuals and businesses would save $1 trillion. Grants in aid to sates could be cut by $500 billion.

Conclusion. There are many different ways to curtail federal spending. It has to be done and the sooner we get started the less painful it will be for all concerned.

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2 thoughts on “How to Achieve a Balanced U.S. Budget

  1. We have no choice. Our nation’s future “autonomy” within the world-wide marketplaces of RESOURCES, KNOWLEDGE, and HUMAN DIGNITY is at risk without it.
    The first step must be a thoroughly reconsidered means to reduce the high level of inefficiency and its related marginal effectiveness within our nation’s healthcare industry. Remember that “50%” of our nation’s citizens will at some time be faced with the prospect of a need for maternal health care. Yet, there are more than 500 citizens who die each year in association with a pregnancy, only because they lived in the wrong advanced/developed nation of the world. The facts are that we would need to reduce our nation’s maternal mortality rate by >80% to rank among the best 10 of the 51 advanced/developed nation’s of the world for their mortality ratio. As of 2015, the best 10 nation’s averaged 3.8 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. In 2014, we had 23.8 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births that year. See UN/IMF/WHO 2015 World Maternal Mortality Report and OBSTETRICS & GYNECOLOGY Sept 2016.
    See for an alternative strategy to forge efficient and effective healthcare reform. Note: there were 3.9 million live births in the USA during 2014.

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