All told, the document, titled the “Path to Prosperity,” proposes to spend about $40 trillion over the next decade — $6.2 trillion less than the budget that Obama put out in February.
Despite its vast ambitions, however, the blueprint drafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) underscores the tremendous difficulty of mopping up the nation’s enormous tide of red ink.
For fiscal 2012, for example, Ryan’s plan would authorize $3.5 trillion in total spending, leaving a budget deficit next year of just under $1 trillion. That’s slightly lower than the deficit projected under current law, but it’s still a significant budget gap.
Annual deficits would dwindle to under $400 billion by the end of the decade, a dramatic improvement over Obama’s budget proposal. But even Ryan’s plan would take nearly 30 years to wipe out deficits completely. More deficits mean more borrowing, and the national debt would keep rising under Ryan’s plan — requiring lawmakers to raise the $14.3 trillion legal limit on borrowing this year. Even Ryan’s austere proposal would allow the debt to rise, to more than $16 trillion next year and more than $23 trillion by 2021.
A significant number of Republicans, however, oppose raising the debt limit. On Monday, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner pushed congressional leaders to raise the cap, which he says the country will hit in mid May, forcing it to default.
Because the economy would keep growing, the debt would diminish as a percentage of gross domestic product, an important measure of financial stability that could help the nation avert a debt crisis. But that considerable achievement might be too nuanced for the most conservative members of the House Republican caucus, several of whom berated Obama’s budget director in February for failing to offer a plan that would end additional borrowing.
Republican congressional leaders, however, praised Ryan’s proposal Tuesday.
“The American people understand we can’t continue spending money we don’t have, especially when doing so is making it harder to create jobs and get our economy back on track,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said. “Our budget will help spur job creation today, stop spending money we don’t have and lift the crushing burden of debt that threatens our children’s future.”