Budget Pain

How tough will it be to balance the budget? It depends on which programs are ax-exempt. As the table below shows, an across-the-board cut in the $2.2 trillion in spending projected for 2002 would be 10%, according to GOP estimates. So you don't want to touch the $481 billion in Social Security spending? O.K. Cut everything else by 13%. Exempt Social Security and defense, and everything else has to be cut 16%. Work your way down the list, throwing in the tax cut promised in the Contract With America, and you are talking spending cuts of up to 38% in the programs that are not spared.

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