How do the various plans to cut public debt stack up? Here's a glimpse, from Ace & co.:
The gray line is where we were at the end of September 2010 ==> that's our target. The blue line is the Obama administration's baseline budget. As you can see, it sails off into the stratosphere. This is the budget plan the Democrats are defending.
The teal line and red line are the Deficit Commission and Ryan's plan, respectively. The teal line makes it back to the gray line by the end of 2022. Ryan's plan? Well, you'll have to wait another 10 years.**
So here's the bottom line. If you believe that the GDP will start growing at a healthy rate and continue at that rate forever, and if you manage to reform Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, and if you reform the budget process, and if you reform the tax code, and if you accomplish all these reforms in FY12, then you might be able to pay off this year's spending within 11 to 12 years. Or maybe the decade after.
This is what the President and his crackerjack economic team have wrought. A one-year deficit that is so large that it can only be paid back if everything goes exactly right. And if everything goes exactly right, we're still looking at decades before we can get back to the debt level we had only 6 months ago.