Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

Comparing the Budgets on Spending, Revenue, Deficits, and Debt

Mar 26, 2013 | Budgets & Projections

Update: This blog has been updated since its original posting to incorporate the House Democratic, Republican Study Commitee, and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) budgets.

Throughout this week we have done a lot of analysis of budget resolutions as they have been released, breaking down many aspects of their policies and estimates. Now it's time to take a step back and see how the House Republican (Ryan), Senate Democratic (Murray), House Democratic (Van Hollen), Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), Republican Study Committee (RSC), Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and Senator Rand Paul (Paul) budgets stack up on spending, revenue, deficits, and debt. The comparison is useful not just to compare the levels for each, but also to look at the timing and pace of the changes that are made.

First, we look at spending levels in the seven budgets. The CBC and CPC both increase spending to varying degrees -- the CPC budget much more in the short term -- but bring spending to 23 percent of GDP by 2023. The Murray and Van Hollen budgets hold spending between 21 and 22 percent of GDP for most of the decade. By contrast, the Ryan budget reduces spending below the baseline throughout the ten-year window, falling to 19 percent in 2023, while spending is reduced under the RSC budget reduces it to about 18 percent and the Paul budget to below 17 percent.



Next is revenue. The four Democratic proposals all raise revenue to various degrees, CPC's revenue increase being the highest followed by the CBC and then the Murray and Van Hollen budgets, which are roughly the same. The difference between each is about a percentage point of GDP by 2023. The Ryan budget calls for comprehensive tax reform that would maintain revenue at current law levels, while the RSC would roll back the tax increases in the American Taxpayer Relief Act, thus having revenue slightly below Ryan.



On deficits, the Murray, Van Hollen and CBC budgets take very similar paths, slightly increasing deficits in the short term above the baseline, but bringing them down to about two percent of GDP by 2023. The CPC budget does more on both fronts, increasing deficits by much more in the short term with jobs measures, but bringing deficits down more aggressively over the longer term than the other two budgets. The Ryan, RSC, and Paul budgets bring down deficits more aggressively in both the short and long term, reducing deficits throughout the ten-year window and beyond.



Finally, we come to the debt-to-GDP ratios, which somewhat reflect the deficit story. The Murray, Van Hollen, and CBC budgets both have slight debt increases in the short term and put the debt on a downward path thereafter (the CBC is slightly more aggressive on debt reduction). The CPC includes large debt increases in the short term, but they get down to about Murray and Van Hollen's debt level by 2023. The Ryan, RSC, and Paul budgets have debt heading downward as a share of the economy throughout the ten-year window, with the RSC's path being slightly more aggressive than Ryan's, and the Paul's path much more agressive than both.



We are pleased to see that each of these budgets calls for putting the debt on a downward path as a share of the economy this decade. The RSC and Paul budgets are obviously the most aggressive and successful towards accomplishing this goal, although the Ryan and Progressive Caucus budgets also put debt on a sharp downward path. We look forward to any additional budget resolutions lawmakers may introduce, which we will continue to analyze as they come out.