Tue Jan 28, 2014 at 11:27 AM PST
Paul Ryan's answer is clear: Let them go hungry.
It is and it isn't. A total of $8 billion in cuts over 10 years is huge in the lives of people who will suffer directly from the cuts. But Dean Baker points out that, framed as cuts to federal spending without broader budget context, these numbers are meaningless to readers—and a lot smaller than most people would think:
It is not hard to express these numbers in ways that would convey information to the vast majority of readers. A quick trip to CEPR's Responsible Budget Reporting Calculator would tell readers that the $23 billion cut amounts to 0.11 percent of projected federal spending while the $8 billion cut in food stamps would reduce federal spending by 0.04 percent.In other words, the food stamp cuts are huge in terms of human misery, but tiny in terms of the federal budget—even if they didn't lead to increased costs for years to come. Yet you won't hear that from most reporters.