Presidential candidate Mitt Romney's proposals to cap total spending, boost defense spending, cut taxes, and balance the budget would require extraordinarily large cuts in nondefense programs. If policymakers cut all nondefense programs by the same percentage, the cuts would measure 21 percent in 2016 and 36 percent in 2021. If policymakers exempted Social Security from the cuts and then cut all other nondefense programs by the same percentage, the cuts would rise to 30 percent in 2016 and 54 percent in 2021.
For nondefense discretionary programs, these cuts would come on top of the 17-percent cut already in law due to the discretionary funding caps of the Budget Control Act that Congress enacted last August and the automatic cuts (or "sequestration") scheduled to start in January 2013. Our estimates of the depth of cuts that the Romney proposals would require are consistent with what Governor Romney himself has said about the required cuts.
These cuts are far deeper than those that House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan's (R-WI) austere budget plan would require. They would shrink nondefense discretionary spending -- which, over the past 30 years, has averaged 3.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and never fallen below 3.2 percent -- to just 1.7 percent of GDP by 2021.
Click here for the full report.