Paul Ryan and the Amazing Disappearing Function 920

| Mon Sep. 10, 2012 6:31 PM EDT

I've mentioned before that Paul Ryan's budget plan includes enormous unspecified spending cuts to domestic programs, but I've never actually looked at his budget document to find out where all the cuts are hidden. Thomas Edsall, on the other hand, has more tolerance for pain than ordinary humans like you and me, so he dived into the fine print looking for the answer to one simple question: where's the slush bucket where Ryan hides all the cuts he doesn't want to fess up to in public?

Answer: Function 920. Over the next decade, this magic asterisk line item contains about $100 billion per year in spending cuts that are completely unspecified. So if you claim that Ryan's budget would cut FEMA or veterans benefits or whatever, you can never prove it because the line items for those things don't include any cuts. No matter what you say about his budget, he can say he's not cutting it. He just dumps all the cuts into Function 920 and refuses to say what programs they'll end up affecting.

We already knew all this, of course, but Edsall advances our understanding of the smoke and mirrors behind the Ryan budget by pinpointing the exact location of the slush fund for us. His whole piece is worth a read.

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