Analysis: Paul Ryan Voted to Add $6.8 Trillion to the Federal Debt

Our guest blogger is Harsha Nahata, an intern at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan has gained an undeserved reputation as a “fiscal hawk,” touting his “Path to Prosperity” budget as a responsible plan to rein in what he describes as a “path to debt and decline.” But Ryan’s votes in Congress show that he is as guilty as anyone of running up the nation’s debt.

A Center for American Progress Action Fund analysis shows that Ryan voted to add a grand total of $6.8 trillion to the federal debt during his time in Congress, voting for at least 65 bills that either reduced revenue or increased spending.

From 2001 to 2008, Congress passed legislation that increased the national deficit by a total of $4 trillion — the number grows to $6 trillion if you add in the how much those policies have cost through 2011. Ryan voted for 90 percent of these deficit increasing bills.


What did Ryan vote to spend on? Here is a break-down of his votes:

— Beginning with the Bush tax cuts, since 2001 Ryan has voted to add $2.5 trillion worth of tax cuts to the deficit.

— In the last 11 years, Paul Ryan voted for every bill that called for an increase in defense spending. In total, this has added $1.9 trillion to the deficit.

— Paul Ryan also voted to increase non-defense discretionary spending — the very thing he is pushing to cut now. He voted to spend $270 billion on Medicare Part D (all of which was unpaid for). He also added $80 billion to the deficit by voting for an agriculture bill in 2002, and he added another $20 billion in 2003 when he voted for changes to military retirement. Lastly, he voted for increased borrowing authority for flood insurance, adding yet another $17 billion to the deficit.

Plus, Ryan’s plan won’t really balance the budget — at least not for the foreseeable future. The Tax Policy Center calculates that under Ryan’s budget plan, the federal government would only raise revenue totaling 15.8 percent of GDP. This would still make the deficit 4 percent of GDP by 2022.