No, Varney, the Republicans' “Pledge” doesn't reduce the debt

Fox business analyst Stuart Varney appeared on America's Newsroom today to comment on the House Republicans' newly released “Pledge to America” and claimed that the plan shows Republicans want “less debt” :

VARNEY: What they're really doing here is laying out a statement of intent. And what they're also doing is making a very sharp contrast with what the Obama plan already is. It's a duel of two economic plans. The Republicans want small government, less debt, lower taxes. And President Obama is running on his record of the economic team and the economic policies he's got in place.

In fact, the Republicans pledge to permanently extend the Bush tax cuts, which would reportedly cost $4.9 trillion over the next ten years, including interest payments, but they don't offer any specific proposals that would even come close to making up that loss. They would need to repeal the entire Recovery Act six times over to pay for the tax cuts.

As the Washington Post's Ezra Klein noted, “The document never says that the policy proposals it offers will ultimately reduce the deficit.” When asked by George Stephanolopolous how the Pledge to America pays for the tax cuts, Rep. Paul Ryan said, “We'd put 1.3 trillion in cuts right there as well. But the President is also proposing $3 trillion of those $3.7 trillion in tax cuts be extended. So, it's not as if the President and the Democrats aren't saying extend some of them.” Got that? Ryan's response to the charge that the Pledge is fiscally irresponsible with tax cuts is that the Democrats are slightly more fiscally responsible with the cuts.

So how can Varney look at the same document calling for almost $5 trillion in tax cuts that aren't paid for and conclude that the Republicans want “less debt” ? Oh yeah.

UPDATE: Howard Gleckman at the Tax Policy Center blog Tax Vox takes a look at the Republicans' Pledge and finds:

When it comes to revenues, the GOP reprises its long-term pledge to permanently extend all of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. Plus it adds a few more tax breaks, including a proposal to give small businesses a new 20 percent deduction. For those interested in deficit reduction, these tax cuts would dwarf any spending cuts in the GOP agenda. [emphasis added]

From the September 23 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom: