Paul Ryan Wants to Cut the Domestic Budget Nearly in Half

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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.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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