The Times on the Ryan Budget, Again

by Ramesh Ponnuru

I thought Robert Draper’s New York Times Magazine piece on House Republican whip Kevin McCarthy was pretty good, but this passage leapt out at me:

In previous months, these “listening sessions,” as McCarthy calls them, focused on the Republican budget legislation written by Paul Ryan and taken to the House floor in April. The initiative would shrink the percentage of federal government spending (relative to gross domestic product) to pre-Great Depression levels . . .

Note that he presents this as an uncontroversial fact. I’m not sure where he’s getting it from. The House Budget Committee projects that spending/GDP is nearly 15 percent in 2050, and that’s as far forward as it makes a projection. The figure for 1930–granted, that’s not pre-Depression, but I don’t have anything from earlier–was 3.4 percent (see table 1.2).

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