How would you reduce the national debt?

The national debt is comfortably over $30 trillion, and the federal government has not run a surplus since 2001.

On the revenue side: ~90% is from three sources: income tax, social security/Medicare tax, and corporate tax.

On the spending side, let’s look at FY 2019 to take out the effects of COVID-19 relief (things like the stimulus checks skew things quite a bit). It typically breaks down like this:

  • ~1/4 is for discretionary programs. These are programs that rely on the annual appropriations process in Congress. Most agency operations, salaries, domestic programs, and defense are in this category.
  • ~2/3 are for mandatory programs. These don’t require annual congressional action. The “big three” entitlement programs – Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security – make up the lion’s share. Other pieces include things like SNAP, TANF, unemployment insurance, and veterans benefits. Because much of this spending is not capped, mandatory spending is growing much faster than discretionary spending, and this rate is accelerating as an aging population becomes eligible for Medicare and Social Security.
  • Interest payments are also a relatively small but significant chunk. This chunk is growing as the debt grows.

Given this background, what would you do to reduce the federal debt? If you’d like inspiration, the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has a really cool interactive “debt fixer” which lets you pick and choose various spending and revenue policies.

submitted by /u/eable2
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