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.

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