How Do We Get The Deficit To Zero?

Heritage.org posted this stark, depressing summary of Federal spending and revenues for 2010:

Per Household Amount Total
Social Security/Medicare -$9,949
Defense -$6,071
Antipoverty -$5,466
Unemployment -$1,640
Debt interest -$1,585
Veterans' benefits -$1,052
Fed. emp. retirement benefits -$1,018
Education -$914
Highways/transit -$613
Health research/regulation -$550
Mortgage credit -$470
Everything else -$2,078
Total spending -$31,046
Total revenues $18,276
Surplus/deficit -$13,130

That's just for 2010 spending. It doesn't cover ObamaCare (which is not going to save any Federal money) or future bailouts.

To reduce the deficit to near-zero, we either need to raise revenues by 72% per household, or we need to cut spending by 44% per household (to 56% of the current level). (Not paying debt interest isn't an option, unless we get forbearance from our lenders, which I don't expect any time soon.) That's just to reduce the deficit to zero, and doesn't pay off any existing debt.

How can we get that deficit to zero? If you had to cut something out, how would it work?

The Left/Liberal/Democrat/Progressive/Socialist Bias: (I am clearly not in this category, but I'm doing my best to approximate an accurate and recognizable response.) We can get to an 11-cent surplus if we cut everything, leaving only ...

  • Social Security/Medicare
  • Antipoverty (e.g. Medicaid)
  • Debt interest

... and leave only 61.4% of the "everything else" (which includes things like Congress, Justice, etc). That's with zero defense budget, folks, and no more veterans' benefits, no federal retirement checks, etc. (I'll assert that the folks on the left would be happy to raise taxes to cover the missing items.)

The Right/Republican/Conservative Bias: (I'm not really in this category either, but I have a better feel for how this response would look.) We can get to a 20-cent surplus if we cut out ...

  • Antipoverty
  • Unemployment
  • Education
  • Health research/regulation
  • Mortgage credit

... then leave only 70% of Social Security/Medicare, and leave only 46.8% of "everything else" in place. So even cutting out the programs conservatives love to hate, we still have to drop 30% of Social Security/Medicare to get the deficit close to zero.

The Real Problem: It's those top three categories: Social Security/Medicare, Defense, and Antipoverty (only one of which is even remotely mentioned in the Constitution). Even if we get rid of every single item except those three, the deficit is still $4795 per household; that's with nothing else but those three. We'd have to raise taxes by 26+% just to cover those top three items, except there would be no money to pay for the IRS to enforce it.

The question now is, what politically-viable approach can we take to cutting spending? (Please God let's not increase revenues more than we have already.) Who will volunteer to take the hit?

Are you stuck with a legacy PHP application? You should buy my book because it gives you a step-by-step guide to improving your codebase, all while keeping it running the whole time.