Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) will hit the campaign trail today in his first week as Mitt Romney’s running mate. Deservedly, much of the attention on Ryan so far has been regarding his radical budget, which hugely shifts taxation down the income scale and guts important government investments.
But Romney’s budget also includes substantial reductions to key federal investments and the social safety net, in order to cut taxes for the wealthy and maintain sky-high defense spending. In fact, as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noted, Romney’s budget would require even deeper cuts to spending that Ryan’s, in order to keep defense spending at an arbitrarily set percentage of the economy:
— Under the Ryan plan, core defense spending (the defense budget other than war costs and some relatively small items such as military family housing), would total about $5.7 trillion over the ten-year period 2013–2022. The Romney plan would increase core defense spending to $7.9 trillion. The Ryan plan increases core defense funding modestly relative to the existing BCA caps, but core defense would nevertheless decline to 2.6 percent of GDP by 2022. In contrast, Governor Romney would increase core defense to 4 percent of GDP.
— The Ryan plan would cut entitlement and discretionary programs (outside of core defense and net interest) by $5.2 trillion over ten years. The Romney proposal would cut this spending by between $7.0 trillion and $9.6 trillion, depending upon whether the budget is balanced. Thus, Governor Romney’s ten-year cuts would range from one-third deeper than those in the Ryan budget to almost twice as deep as the Ryan cuts.
These cuts would have severe consequences for individual programs, including potentially throwing 13 million people off of the food stamp program.
As Bloomberg News noted, Ryan’s tax plan involves giving slightly more away to the wealthy than does Romney’s, but Romney more than makes up for it with his budget’s gutting of programs that aid the middle-class and low-income Americans. And he does it in order to preserve a level of defense spending that has nothing to do with defense priorities, but is simply a number that Romney decreed is necessary.