I watched last weeks Stossel episode last night (yes I am a bit behind). He had representatives from 5 “think tanks” there to lay out their plans to balance the budget, each of these “think tanks” had been given $200,000 to come up with a plan. Of the 5 plans represented only one actually balanced the budget. Two of the plans thought that more spending would balance the budget (how this happens is beyond me and I am fairly well versed in economics). None of them eliminated any significant government agencies. Most did not really cut military spending, one said we hope for war to end by 2015, but this is a pipe dream as long as the infrastructure is there for politicians to start wars, they will find new enemies to start wars with. It is like the kid who carries drum sticks wherever he goes, he finds new things to use as a drum. I was disappointed, but not surprised by the results.
Almost all the plans included tax increases. One of the liberal think tanks kept trying to say that taxes were higher under Clinton and the economy did just fine, this is true, but it is not because of higher taxes that the economy progressed, it was in spite of higher taxes, the reason for the boom under Clinton was that productivity was increasing at an amazing rate because the 90's were when the internet really became a reality in the way we know it.
In my world, I would balance the budget by starting a systematic shutdown of the government. I would start off easy enough and end the war on drugs, shut down the DEA, reduce budgets of the FBI and CIA since they would no longer need to worry about drug prohibition. Then I would start reducing the military by shutting down all overseas bases. I would end the department of education. I would end all corporate welfare and farm subsidies. Once this was all accomplished I would start hitting the entitlements by allowing people to opt out of social security, both in collecting SS and paying into SS and then I would implement a plan to phase it out, same with medicare. I would eliminate tariffs and would open the borders and shut down all immigration related departments as well as customs which would not be needed in a society free of tariffs and restrictions on drugs, immigration and other contraband. Unfortunately my plan will never even be considered by politicians, and instead of a relatively slow ratcheting down of government so that the actual services government provides can transition away from government and to the free market, instead the politicians will grow government until there is a Soviet style collapse, this is the lesson that history teaches, but politicians never learn.