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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press The Ryan Budget's Savings Come From Shutting Down the Federal Government

The Ryan Budget's Savings Come From Shutting Down the Federal Government

Sunday, 12 August 2012 07:35

The Washington Post seriously misled readers in an article on the Ryan budget. It asserted:

"The Congressional Budget Office [CBO] estimates that it [the Ryan Budget] would not bring the federal books into balance until around 2040. And most of its savings come from the long-term restructuring of entitlement programs."

Actually, in percentage terms by far the biggest savings in the Ryan budget comes from essentially shutting down the federal government, except for Social Security, health care programs and the military. The CBO analysis of his budget [Table 2] shows that all other areas of federal spending falls to 4.75 percent of GDP by 2040 and 3.75 percent of GDP by 2050.

Military spending is currently more than 4.0 percent of GDP and Representative Ryan has indicated that he wants to keep spending at its current levels or raise it. This means that under the Ryan Budget, by 2040 there will be almost no money left for national parks, education, the State Department, the Food and Drug Aministration, federal courts and all the other activities currently supported by the federal government. By 2050 there will be no money left for these activities. The Post has seriously misrepresented Representative Ryan's agenda by not pointing out thus fact to readers.

The article also misled readers by repeatedly referring to a report from the Bowles-Simpson commission. There was not report from the commission. A commission report required the support of 14 of the 18 members of the commission as is clearly stated in its by-laws. No plan received the necessary support to be approved by the commission. The report noted in this piece should be indentified as the report of the commission's co-chairs, Morgan Stanley director Erskine Bowles and former Senator Alan Simpson.

Comments (4)Add Comment
written by David, August 12, 2012 8:11
I can only shudder at the thought of those waiting to fill the voids created by this budget. Thanks for the summary.
The Bain plan as national policy
written by David B. Schuster, August 12, 2012 9:10
His recovery plan is a competitive dismantling of the government. Much like buying a company and selling its assets, public assets will be sold to private buyers. I imagine a Ryan budget would include toll roads, charter schools, medicare vouchers, and the sale of national parks.
CBO did not estimate the Ryan budget would balance the books
written by Robert Salzberg, August 12, 2012 12:41
The WaPo also distorted the CBO report by saying that it estimated the costs for the Ryan legislation.

Ryan's committee did not provide enough specifics for much of it's proposals and ordered the CBO to just insert the committee's numbers for spending and revenue projections instead of calculating them based on the proposed policy.

From page 1 of the CBO report:

"Those calculations do not represent a cost estimate for legislation or an analysis of the effects of any given policies. In particular, CBO has not considered whether the specified paths are consistent with the policy proposals or budget figures released today by Chairman Ryan as part of his proposed budget resolution."
Talk about the fiscal cliff
written by Nassim Sabba, August 13, 2012 1:51
That's were you're going to be sent, for your lovely retirement, over the cliff, bye grandma, grandpa... It is not really that painful, you are going head first.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.