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PolitiFact Florida | Tampa Bay Times
Sorting out the truth in state politics

PolitiFact: Mack says cutting one penny out of every federal dollar would quickly balance the budget

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.

PolitiFact Florida is partnering with 10 News for the 2012 election. See video fact-checks at PolitiFact.com/Florida

The statement

The Mack Penny Plan for the federal budget "would balance our budget by 2019" and "continues to gain support."

U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV, in a mailer

The ruling

PolitiFact ruling: Half True
Mack's proposal to cut 1 percent out of the federal budget each year would balance the books by 2019, but experts say it's more of a math exercise than an actual "plan" since it doesn't say what would get cut. We rate this claim Half True.

PolitiFact: Mack says cutting one penny out of every federal dollar would quickly balance the budget 07/08/12 [Last modified: Sunday, July 8, 2012 11:58pm]
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