House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s new budget cuts $3.3 trillion over ten years (2015-2024) from programs that serve people of limited means. That’s 69 percent of its $4.8 trillion in total non-defense budget cuts.
Not much has changed on this front from Chairman Ryan’s budget plan of a year ago, or the year before that. Then, too, Chairman Ryan proposed very deep cuts, the bulk of which were in programs that serve low- and moderate-income Americans.
The deficit reduction plan that Fiscal Commission co-chairs Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson issued in late 2010 established as a basic principle that deficit reduction should not increase poverty or widen inequality. The Ryan plan charts a radically different course, imposing its most severe cuts on people on the lower rungs of the income ladder.
The Ryan budget proposes $4.8 trillion in non-defense budget cuts through 2024: $900 billion from non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs and $3.9 trillion from entitlements and other mandatory programs. These cuts are in addition to the discretionary and entitlement cuts imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act’s (BCA) budget caps and sequestration.
Cuts in low-income discretionary and entitlement programs likely account for at least $3.3 trillion — or 69 percent — of the $4.8 trillion in non-defense cuts — and probably more than that. As the box below explains, our assumptions regarding the size of the low-income cuts are quite conservative. The $3.3 trillion figure includes:
More than $2.7 trillion in health care reductions for low- and moderate-income people. Chairman Ryan’s plan repeals the Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidies to help people with modest incomes buy health insurance, repeals the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, and eliminates much smaller ACA-related expenditures. It also block-grants Medicaid, cutting another $732 billion from that program. Under the Ryan plan, at least 40 million people — 1 in 8 Americans — would lose health insurance or fail to obtain insurance by 2024. Most of them would be people with low or moderate incomes.