The Paul Ryan budget: your guide to what's in it

Rep. Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin, Mitt Romney’s new running mate, is famous in Washington as a firebrand budgeteer. The chairman of the House Budget Committee, he’s drawn up a series of spending-and-tax plans meant to challenge the Obama administration’s priorities from the right while outlining what he terms a “path to prosperity."

It’s been some time since his latest budget was released, however. At this point most Americans may not be able to recall its main points. So let’s have a primer. What’s in Congressman Ryan’s budget, anyway?

1. Spending

J. Scott Applewhite/AP/File
In this April 2011 file photo, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin is pictured during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington.

The Ryan budget, which passed the US House earlier this year, would reduce federal spending by about $6 trillion over a decade. In particular, it would reduce discretionary spending (stuff that’s not Medicare, Social Security, debt interest, and other mandatory expenses) by about half during this period, from 12.5 percent of gross domestic product to 6.75 percent.

These cuts would be enforced by a binding cap on total spending as a percentage of the economy, as well as sub-caps on particular spending categories, according to House Budget Committee documents. 

Defense spending – the largest discretionary category – would be kept flat under Ryan, who says the US risks forfeiting world leadership if it reduces the military. Critics say all other programs labeled “discretionary," from the FBI to the FDA, would face massive reductions as a result, while Pentagon contractors are shielded.

1 of 5

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.