At the moment, our national fiscal situation is considerably less bad than it was during the Obama-Pelosi-Reid era of one-party Democratic rule; the 2010 and 2011 federal deficits were 8.7 and 8.5 percent of GDP, respectively, but the 2014 deficit was only 2.8 percent of GDP. Federal spending went from 24.4 percent of GDP in 2009 to 20.3 percent in 2014, thanks in no small part to budget sequestration, the one national policy in which Washington’s Democrats and Washington’s Republicans are united in loathing. The 2017 deficit is projected to be 2.3 percent of GDP.
That puts us within striking distance of having a balanced budget (albeit one that is balanced at a spending point that is too high for my own taste) or at least the reduction of budget deficits to trivial levels. All that is needed to get there is a little sober reform on the taxing front and a little sober reform on the spending front, with the hardest piece being reform of our entitlement programs, which in the long run will be the major drivers of deficits. I like the idea of radical tax reform, scrapping the tax code, abolishing the IRS, and starting over, and then privatizing Social Security and abolishing Medicare and Medicaid to boot. But you don’t actually have to do that to balance the budget.
You do have to stop pretending that you can give the American middle class a big income-tax cut when it hardly pays any income taxes, and stop pretending that you can get spending under control without touching the tiny handful of popular programs (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, national security) that constitute the vast majority of federal spending.