(CNN) - Newt Gingrich's tax and budget plans would add $7 trillion to the U.S. debt over the rest of this decade, should he become president and get everything he wants from Congress. Rick Santorum would not fare much better.
Ron Paul's plans, on the other hand, would slowly reduce deficits, based on his idea of ending a host of government agencies, including doing away with the Federal Reserve.
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Mitt Romney's tax-cut and spending proposals, before being updated this week, would keep the deficit on the course it is now.
Those bottom lines come from a study by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a bipartisan think tank. Its prominent membership includes former Reps. Vic Fazio and Bill Frenzel, the latter having served as a congressman from Minnesota.
Fazio, who represented a district in California for 20 years, was at times a member of the House Budget and Appropriations Committees.
The study examined candidates' proposals and forecast moderate growth for the rest of the decade. Fazio told CNN Radio the idea of tax cuts paying for themselves is illusory. Couple that with spending cuts the candidates love to push, and he sees a need to reveal the truth about "some of the policies [GOP contenders] prescribe, almost always in glowing terms, because there are implications for the deficits that seem to be ignored in these campaign debates."
No chance of a balanced budget, as far as the eye can see. In fact, considering the explosive growth of entitlement spending as baby boomers age, the goal of the study was to see if any candidate could come close "to a level where debts are reduced and deficits are sustainable." That means deficits not growing at a faster rate than the economy, a prospect that seems far-fetched, almost quaint.
Romney put forth a new idea this week of reducing all income tax rates by 20%. He quickly added that to avoid adding to the deficits, he would phase out some exemptions, deductions and credits for wealthier Americans.
Fazio calls it "more harmful to deficit reduction, but perhaps more helpful for him politically."
President Barack Obama's own budget, unveiled earlier this month, showed limited deficit reduction, based largely on expiring tax cuts for the wealthy, and corporate tax reforms that would close loopholes, deductions and breaks. It does not tackle entitlement reform in any sweeping way. Fazio considers each proposal "an opening bid" in negotiations for serious deficit reductions down the road.
On Capitol Hill, Fazio predicted nothing but squirming in the future.
No matter which party wins the White House this fall, "[t]here will be many debt-limit extensions required of many Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle," Fazio predicted.