CBO Analysis Blows Gaping Hole in Republicans’ Balanced Budget Pledge

Washington, D.C.—A new analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) torpedoes House Republicans’ promise to balance the federal budget while also making permanent the Trump tax cuts. 


In response to a request from Senator Whitehouse (D-RI), Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, and Senator Wyden (D-OR), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, CBO examined how much federal spending would need to be reduced in order to achieve House Republicans’ stated goal of balancing the budget in 10 years. CBO found that the cuts to programs like health care, infrastructure, and public safety would be massive.  Moreover, it found that balancing the budget in 10 years would be mathematically impossible if Republicans kept Social Security, Medicare, defense, and veterans’ programs whole while also making permanent the Trump tax breaks for the very wealthy.


“If ever there were any doubt about Republicans’ blind allegiance to the top 1%, this is a nail in that coffin,” said Senator Whitehouse. “While they would permanently extend the Trump tax giveaways for their wealthy donors, Republicans have pledged to use draconian cuts to pro-growth investments for everyday Americans to balance the budget in 10 years.  As this analysis shows, no amount of cuts can make their math add up.  It is a farce.  Republicans are threatening debt default and using workers and families as collateral in their crusade against the government.  Democrats will fight tooth and nail on behalf of the American people to ensure Republicans do not get their way.”


“Today’s analysis from Congress’ own nonpartisan authority on the budget makes it clear: Republican promises not to cut Social Security or Medicare on their way to balancing the budget just don’t add up,” Senator Wyden said. “These numbers show that Speaker McCarthy made impossible promises to land his job, and that’s seriously alarming with a catastrophic default getting closer every day. The president has put forward a budget that helps all Americans get ahead and reduces the deficit at the same time. It’s past time for Republicans to ante up and show their plan.”


Among the key findings:


  • Despite Republicans’ hollow promises, it is mathematically impossible to balance the budget in 10 years, make permanent the Trump tax giveaways to the wealthy, and avoid cuts to Medicare, Social Security, veterans’ programs, and defense without raising new revenue.


  • To balance the budget with no new revenues in 10 years and leave Medicare, Social Security, veterans’ programs, and defense harmless – even without extending the Trump tax cuts – Republicans would have to cut 86% from every other federal program, including food and housing support, Border Patrol and public safety, affordable healthcare and prescription drugs, roads and bridges, mental health and substance abuse, and Medicaid.


  • Spending cuts anywhere near this magnitude would drive up everyday costs for all Americans. For example, an 86% cut to health insurance from Medicaid and the ACA exchanges would leave tens of millions of people uninsured and increase costs for everyone else, and an 86% cut to federal research and development would drive up the costs of prescription drugs.


Last week, President Biden released his Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2024. It strengthens Medicare and protects Social Security, increases investments in kids and families, and lowers costs for Americans. By closing tax loopholes, ending tax breaks for Big Oil and wasteful spending for Big Pharma, and cracking down on wealthy tax cheats, the plan would also reduce the deficit by $3 trillion—without raising taxes on those making less than $400,000.