The result? Poof! No more deficits.
When you hear people talk about our future deficits, what they’re saying is that the trust funds that support disability insurance, Medicare, Social Security, and highway spending will run out, but the programs will keep spending. That’s where the deficits come from. Blahous argues that these programs will never spend a dollar more than is in their trust funds. And when you assume that, all our deficit problems go away:
The graph above compares Blahous’s baseline to the “current law” baseline. That’s already stacking the deck: The current law baseline assumes the expiration of all the Bush tax cuts, it assumes the spending sequester will take effect, it assumes huge Medicare cuts that Congress will never permit, and much more. If we follow current law, we don’t really have a deficit problem. No one believes we will follow current law. If they did, they wouldn’t worry about deficits.
But Blahous’s baseline takes that much further: If we follow his assumptions, soon enough, we don’t even have deficits. By 2050, we’re a few percentage points away from surpluses. No one believes that, either. But a bunch of folks are willing to pretend they believe that for the purposes of making the Affordable Care Act look fiscally irresponsible.