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Scott Slesinger’s Blog

Ryan Budget Plan = No EPA, No FBI, No Food Stamps, No Roads, No Government But Defense and a Safety Net with Holes

Scott Slesinger

Posted March 22, 2012 in Curbing Pollution, Environmental Justice, Health and the Environment, U.S. Law and Policy

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The Radical Ryan budget is a proposal that proudly leads to a government that cannot do even basic services. 

  • Fact: The government has spent at least 3% of GNP for defense every year since World War II.[i] 
  • Fact: the U.S. spends around 12% of GNP on discretionary programs, including defense and domestic programs such as EPA, national parks, education, food stamps, health research, and the Weather Bureau.  The government has never spent less than 8% of GNP on discretionary programs since WWII. [ii]
  • Fact: The Ryan Budget projects that by 2050, discretionary programs both defense and domestic, will equal 3 3/4% of GNP.[iii]  Assuming the standard 3% of GNP for defense, that leaves three quarters of one percent, virtually nothing, for all domestic discretionary programs. That is no EPA, Interior, Weather Bureau, Interstate highways, food stamps, health research, air traffic controls or NASA. Just a hollowed out Medicare and Medicaid and the armed forces. Congress couldn’t carry out its enumerated duties including regulating patents, immigration or print money let alone protect Americans from pollution.
  • Fact: Because of the failure of the “Supercommittee” to meet its goals, automatic budget cuts begin on January 1, 2013, that would make cuts in Defense and “discretionary non-defense” of about 9% in FY13.   Ryan opposed the Defense Department cuts; so he takes the money from domestic programs to delay any cutbacks in Defense.  This will translate in an additional 5% cut immediately at the Environmental Protection Agency, crippling that agency’s ability to protect public health and the environment. The next year, FY14, agencies such as EPA will be cut an additional 19% in nominal terms. This is three times as steep as the aggressive cuts in the sequester which are critiqued in the Green Budget.[iv]

Does this ending of government get rid of the deficit?

  • The Peter G. Peterson Foundation, that is somewhat supportive of the proposal, shows that, compared to current laws, over the next ten years, the Ryan proposed budget would
    • Cut spending by $4.15 trillion
    • Cut taxes and other revenues by $4.4 trillion
    • Increase budget deficits by $200 billion[v]

Essentially he cuts the programs for the poor, the environment, our parks and schools to pay for tax cuts for those in the top brackets.  Is that what we want government to do? 

This budget is not only unnecessary; it contradicts the deal the Congress made in passing the Budget Control Act of 2011. That agreement set spending limits over a decade with no tax increases something most people saw as a big win for the Republicans. Now, apparently to please their Tea Party base, they are cutting the budget to have a governmental system more like Somalia.                                                       

The full House will vote on this proposal next week. It deserves no votes.

 


[i]  Congressional Budget Office, http://cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/03-20-Ryan_Specified_Paths_2.pdf, page 10

[ii] Fn 1, page 10

[iii] Ibid.

[iv]  The Ryan-Republican Budget: The Consequences of Imbalance, http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/03/21/ryan-republican-budget-consequences-imbalance

[v] Peter Peterson Foundation,  Analysis of Chairman Ryan’s 2013 Budget Proposal March 21, 2012, http://www.pgpf.org/Issues/Fiscal-Outlook/2012/03/032112-Ryan-Budget.aspx#_edn1

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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