U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV, a Fort Myers Republican running for the U.S. Senate, says he has a plan to balance the budget by 2019.
It all comes down to a penny.
"The 'Mack Penny Plan' is simple — eliminate one penny out of every federal dollar spent," Mack said in a mailer. "Doing this would balance our budget by 2019 and restore economic freedom by reducing spending and bringing fiscal discipline to Washington. The Penny Plan continues to gain support."
We had a few questions about Mack's "plan," which he filed as a bill in Congress last year:
• Does the math work?
• What gets cut 1 percent each year?
• And, is the idea gaining support?
Under the plan, the federal government would reduce spending by 1 percent each year for six years. Then, in the seventh year, funding would be capped at 18 percent of gross domestic product, which measures the size of the overall economy. By the eighth year, the plan would balance the budget and save $7.5 trillion over 10 years.
Experts we reached out to generally agreed that Mack's math is correct and would balance the budget.
But — and it's a big but — no one we interviewed thought Mack's proposal was a realistic way to balance the budget.
"One can always make the math work, as presented in this fashion it's a fairly straightforward exercise," said JD Foster of the conservative Heritage Foundation.
Most notably, Mack doesn't explain how he would adjust Medicare and Social Security to make up for the expected growth as baby boomers retire.
We asked Mack's congressional office, for instance, if Mack supports cutting Social Security 1 percent a year for six years.
It didn't answer.
Michael Linden, of the left-leaning Center for American Progress, called Mack's plan "ridiculous." He said that Mack and others would face a choice between cutting benefits to seniors and veterans or — if they held Social Security and Medicare harmless — massive cuts to most everything else.
As for support for the plan, Mack introduced his bill in the House on May 11, 2011.
Since then, it has seen no official action, according to the Library of Congress website.
Bottom line: Mack used a calculator correctly when creating his "Penny Plan," but there's not much to his proposal beyond that.
Namely, experts said, he has failed to say how he'd cut 1 percent out of the federal budget each year. On top of that, the idea that his proposal "continues to gain support," smacks of hyperbole.
On balance, we rate Mack's statement Half True.
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