... here’s my back-of-the-envelope balanced budget, with no tax increases:
1. Social Security: Yeah, they’ll say you’re throwing Granny off the cliff. But it’s her or the grandkids. So implement aggressive means-testing and other reforms to cut 20 percent of spending for $150 billion in savings.
2. Medicare: Ditto, for $100 billion in savings.
3. Keep on going and reduce Medicaid and other health-care services spending by 10 percent: $33 billion.
4. National defense: Republicans will howl, but there’s room for a 10 percent cut to all national-defense spending, including non-DoD activities such as DoE’s work maintaining our nuclear arsenal. That nets $74 billion in savings. Surely we can slaughter hapless desert barbarians more cheaply.
5. “Other income security.” That’s the welfare state bits and pieces not included in Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, food stamps, etc. Welfare of the checks-from-Uncle variety. Eliminating it entirely saves $159 billion.
6. Welfare for bureaucrats: Making federal-employee retirement and disability systems totally self-funding saves $123 billion.
7. Eliminate federal education spending entirely: elementary, secondary, and higher-ed. Leaving it to the states and to the market saves us $106 billion. Harvard will figure something out.
8. Eliminate “community and regional-development” spending, a.k.a. boondoogles and slush funds, except for disaster relief: $15 billion.
9. Get farmers off welfare: $19 billion. Suck it up, Elmer.
10. Foreign aid, international development, international-security assistance, etc. Quit meddling abroad and propping up Third World potentates, and save $44 billion.
11. Cut all the “energy” spending on “energy information,” “energy emergency preparedness,” etc. -- all the energy spending that doesn’t actually produce any energy. And throw federal energy-conservation spending on the fire, too. Cutting the bureaucratic answer to Jimmy Carter’s sweater saves $12 billion.
12. “Advancing commerce” doesn’t. We’re looking at you, SBA et al.: $23 billion.
13. Federal law enforcement: Cut spending by 10 percent. Legalizing it saves us $3 billion.
14. Space flight: We aren’t flying in space anymore. Staying grounded saves $17 billion.
15. Downsize Smokey the Bear: Cutting land-management, recreation, natural resources, etc., by half saves $21 billion.
16. Quit subsidizing suburban sprawl: Cutting transportation spending by 10 percent saves $10 billion.
17. Save $36 billion by cutting health research and training. Let Pfizer do it.
18. The real-estate market isn’t going to make a comeback. So eliminate federal housing assistance and save $60 billion.
19. Cut food stamps by 10 percent, save $11 billion.
20. I know, I promised no tax increases, so that’s a 19-point plan to balance the budget: Just over $1 trillion in savings. No. 20 is a bonus tax hike: Eliminate the stupid and destructive mortgage-interest deduction and have the national debt paid off by the time the kids being born this year graduate from college.