Paul Ryan Budget

March 21, 2012 by staff 

Paul Ryan Budget, Paul Ryan’s budget would spend $5.3 trillion less over the next decade than President Obama’s budget. Part of this is health care: Ryan would trim Medicare and Medicaid for a portion of his savings. But he’d also spend $2.2 trillion less on everything else. So what, specifically, is Ryan planning to cut?

Paul Ryan’s budget would cut transportation spending 38 percent, compared with the White House’s budget. (Elaine Thompson/AP) The clearest way to figure this out is to look at the “Chairman’s mark”: This is the version of Ryan’s budget that’s in legislative language and gives specific forecasts for spending by government function. You can see them in table form at the end of his bill (pdf) and then compare them with the White House’s Table 32-1 here. Exciting, right?

Over the next decade, Ryan plans to spend about 16 percent less than the White House on “income security” programs for the poor — that’s everything from food stamps to housing assistance to the earned-income tax credit. (Ryan’s budget would authorize $4.8 trillion between 2013 and 2022; the White House’s would spend $5.7 trillion.) Compared with Obama, Ryan would spend 25 percent less on transportation and 13 percent less on veterans. He’d spend 6 percent less on “General science, space, and basic technology.” And, compared with the White House’s proposal, he’d shell out 33 percent less for “Education, training, employment, and social services.”

So how would this lower spending play out? Let’s take transportation as an example. Right now, the United States is facing a number of pressing infrastructure challenges. The National Highway System, first built in the 1950s, is reaching the end of its natural lifespan. Our air-traffic control system is outdated, causing airport delays around the country. About one-quarter of the country’s bridges are either “structurally deficient” or inadequate to today’s traffic needs, according to the GAO.

A variety of think tanks andanlysts have pegged the cost of repairing and upgrading our transportation networks at somewhere between $200 billion and $262 billion per year over the next decade. The White House’s budget envisions spending an average of about $104 billion per year. Ryan’s budget, meanwhile, allocates $78 billion per year. In his summary, Ryan claims he can meet the country’s needs by cutting back on “imprudent, irresponsible, and downright wasteful spending,” though it’s not clear what waste Ryan has in mind, much less whether it would make up the gap.

Alternatively, we can look at what specific cuts might ensue in the very near future. Third Way has tried to game out the impacts of Congress’s recent debt-ceiling deal on specific government programs. The cuts to domestic spending, if applied across the board, would lead to fewer food inspectors, fewer air-traffic controllers, and so forth. That would mean more delays and cases of food poisoning, and so forth. And Ryan’s budget, for its part, goes even deeper than the debt-ceiling deal.

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