Paul Ryan on Tuesday unveiled a new plan that claims to balance the federal budget in 10 years. It would do so by slashing spending, especially for health programmes, while simultaneously cutting tax rates for the wealthy. As chair of the House budget committee, the defeated vice-presidential candidate has put forward very similar plans for several years. They have been endorsed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
Those unfamiliar with the peculiarities of the US budget process may be inclined to attach more importance to the Ryan budget than it deserves. The truth is that the US does not really have a budget in any meaningful sense of the term.