House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan is supposed to be a brave and serious thinker. That's how the Washington punditry treats him. Last year, the Peter Peterson gang gave Ryan a "Fiscy Award" for "leading the way in promoting fiscal responsibility and government accountability." Politico made Representative Ryan its "health care policymaker of the year." Ryan is a regular guest on the Sunday talk shows and he can always count on a warm reception from the very serious people.
For this reason when Representative Ryan again proposed a budget that would shrink non-defense spending outside of Social Security and health care programs to zero by 2050 the proposal deserves real attention. According to the projections of the Congressional Budget Office (Table 2), Representative Ryan's budget would shrink the category of defense and non-defense discretionary spending, plus non-health entitlements to 3.75 percent of GDP by 2050.
Since Representative Ryan has said that he wants to keep military spending near its current level of 4.0 percent of GDP, this would leave no money to pay for the Justice Department, the Food and Drug Administration, Education, the National Institutes of Health or anything else that the government does.
This shrinking of non-defense spending to zero was also in Representative Ryan's budget last year, however he could have been credited with an honest, if incredibly foolish, mistake. However he has now gone on record with the same proposal in 2012, presumably indicating that this budget does in fact reflect his views and the views of the Republicans in the House, if they again approve the budget, as they did last year.
It is remarkable that this extraordinary proposal by Representative Ryan has not gotten more attention from the people who think so highly of him in official Washington. Apparently they consider the elimination of most of the government to be a very reasonable suggestion.