Brendan Greeley, staff writer for Bloomberg Businessweek and former technology and policy correspondent for The Economist, shares his doubts after reviewing the Romney, Ryan, and Obama budget proposals.

In his 2013 budget, Obama points with pride to the “PAYGO” bill he signed into law, which requires revenue increases to offset the cost of any new programs and cuts to accompany any revenue losses. Ryan’s Path to Prosperity proposes “CUTGO,” which would force any new mandatory programs to be accompanied by discretionary cuts elsewhere in the budget. These are fun slogans, but neither spells out a realistic way to actually pay or cut. Very little about our supposedly honest fiscal debate this year bears any resemblance to reality. Despite what the candidates say, the 2012 campaign doesn’t pit two radically different ideas about the size of government against each other. Obama and Romney are arguing about very different visions of how to borrow money, shift it around, and not pay it back.