House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget plan would get about two-thirds of its more than $4 trillion in budget cuts over 10 years from programs that serve people of limited means, which violates basic principles of fairness and stands a core principle of President Obama’s fiscal commission on its head.
The plan of Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, who co-chaired President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, established, as a basic principle, that deficit reduction should not increase poverty or inequality or hurt the disadvantaged. The Ryan plan, which the chairman unveiled in a news conference, speech, and Wall Street Journal op-ed today, charts a different course, turning its biggest cannons on these people.
This finding emerges from a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis of the Ryan plan. Table S-4 of the plan shows that it proposes net program cuts of $4.3 trillion over ten years. The plan shows a $5.8 trillion cut in outlays from the Congressional Budget Office baseline, but $446 billion of that is interest savings and another $1.04 trillion is simply an assumption that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will phase down on the Obama Administration’s timetable. Actual program cuts produce net savings of $4.322 trillion.
Cuts in low-income programs appear likely to account for at least $2.9 trillion — or about two-thirds — of this amount. The $2.9 trillion includes the following three categories of cuts:
Our numerical assumptions are conservative in another way as well. That’s because, when faced with the choice of which specific programs to cut, policymakers are unlikely to cut much from a number of non-low-income programs in these budget categories that are popular, such as veterans’ disability compensation and the FBI. That means that other programs — including low-income programs — would have to be cut by more than their proportionate share.
This post first appeared on the site of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.
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