By Alexander Bolton - 03/08/12 07:16 PM EST
Members of the Senate Tea Party Caucus on Thursday announed a plan to balance the budget in five years, cutting spending by nearly $11 trillion compared to President Obama’s budget.
The plan, dubbed “A Platform to Revitalize America,” is a wish list of conservative policies, none of which have any chance of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate or being signed into law by a liberal Democratic president.
“The whole point here is to show we can reasonably balance the budget within a five-year period,” said Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), one of the sponsors of the plan.
“This idea that we have to look 30 years out to balance the budget is not only unnecessary, but it’s improbable. We cannot continue to spend at our current rate for 10 more years, much less 20 or 30 more years.
“This is an urgent matter.”
Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) also back the proposal, which would overhaul Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
The lawmakers said they would turn Medicare into a premium support plan that would give seniors the same healthcare plan as members of Congress. They say this would save an estimated $1 trillion over 10 years.
“What we’re doing is telling seniors that you can have the same plan that congressmen and senators have,” DeMint said. “They get the same premium support that we do.”
The trio would curb Social Security spending by increasing the retirement age over time and indexing benefits to individual incomes. High-income earners would see slower growth in their benefits while low-income workers would see increased benefits.
The proposal would fund Medicaid, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, food stamps and child nutrition programs through block grants.
It would cut most discretionary spending to fiscal year 2008 levels but spare national defense spending from the deep cuts mandated by the 2011 Budget Control Act.
It would freeze foreign aid spending at $5 billion a year and eliminate the departments of Commerce, Education, Housing and Urban Development and Energy and privatize the Transportation Security Administration.
Paul said some of the money saved could be used to pay for infrastructure projects.
“Our budget would actually eliminate the Department of Energy. I would take some of that money and put it into a bridges fund,” he said.
The plan would repeal the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
It would also permit construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, and implement broad tax reform by establishing a 17 percent flat tax for individuals and corporations.