Paul Ryan Wants to Cut the Domestic Budget Nearly in Half

House Republicans unveiled their budget plan today:

The House plan envisions major cuts to federal spending over the coming decade, bringing the budget into balance by relying on accelerated economic growth to boost revenue. Under the House plan, defense spending would steadily increase over 10 years while nondefense discretionary spending would decline to $424 billion — 23 percent below the $554 billion the federal government is spending in that category this year.

That sounds bad. But it’s even worse. As always with this stuff, you need to adjust for inflation and population growth. Here’s what that looks like:¹

At $554 billion, the domestic discretionary budget is currently $1,705 per person. Just to keep up with inflation and population growth, that needs to grow to $727 billion by 2027. Instead, Republicans want to cut it to $424 billion.

That’s not a reduction of 23 percent, it’s a reduction of 42 percent. The House budget would decimate spending on national parks, education, food assistance, housing, basic research, transportation, law enforcement, the EPA, and more.

Why? In order to fund a big tax cut for the rich. Like it or not, the combination of PAYGO and reconciliation rules force Paul Ryan to pretend to pay for his tax cut. But rosy economic assumptions and dynamic-scoring pixie dust only get him so far. He can only get the rest of the way by slashing spending on everything except defense.

By 42 percent. Remember that number.

¹I assumed inflation of 2 percent per year and population growth of 2.5 million per year.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.