Analyzing the Ryan Roadmap 2.0

Wednesday, March 21, 2012 at 2:00 PM by

CBO Figures Indicate that Much of Federal Government Would Cease to Exist by 2050

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan unveiled a budget blueprint Tuesday to reduce the federal deficit while sharply reducing taxes. It would do that by slashing most of what the federal government does – including safety net programs for the poor, such as Medicaid and food stamps, as well as Pell Grants and a number of other programs that the President has promised to protect.

After reviewing an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released Tuesday, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) concluded:

“Ryan’s new budget plan specifies a long-term spending path under which, by 2050, most of the federal government aside from Social Security, health care, and defense would cease to exist.   …CBO shows that total federal spending would fall by 2050 to the lowest level since 1950, when Medicare, Medicaid, most federal funding for education, highways, and environmental protection, and various other significant federal activities did not exist.”

The CBPP paper goes on to state that the cuts would include: “everything from veterans’ programs to medical and scientific research, highways, education, nearly all programs for low-income families and individuals other than Medicaid, national parks, border patrols, protection of food safety and the water supply, law enforcement, and the like.”

The Center’s paper also sums up the CBO analysis of the changes relating to public health care programs:

“CBO finds that it would cut programs to help low- and middle-income people afford health insurance — Medicaid, CHIP, and the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies to help near-poor and moderate-income families afford insurance — by more than 75 percent by 2050, with the bulk of the cuts coming from Medicaid.”

The Medicaid program would be block-granted, and although Medicare is one of the programs that would continue to exist, it would look very different. The Ryan blueprint aims to resurrect the controversial proposal to transform Medicare, for those under age 55 now, into a voucher-like “premium support” program that would provide public subsidies for purchases of insurance, and which is likely to be eroded steadily over the years.

I hope we can follow-up with information about the distributional effects of the tax changes, but the new blueprint leaves many of the details of the tax cuts and “reforms” up in the air.

Jon Peacock

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