Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

Fiscal Background for Tonight's Debate

Oct 11, 2012 | Budgets & Projections

Tonight at 9 PM in Kentucky will be the first and only vice presidential debate between Vice President Joe Biden and candidate Paul Ryan. If this debate is anything like the first presidential debate, fiscal policy should be given a solid amount of attention, especially given Congressman Ryan's position as chairman of the House Budget Committee and Vice President Biden's involvement in debt ceiling negotiations last year.

As chairman of the House Budget Committee, Congressman Ryan's budgets have received plenty of attention in the past two years, but his plans predate his position as chairman. There are two versions of his Roadmap for America's Future, originally put out in 2008 and revised in 2010. When he became Budget Committee chairman, there were two versions of the Path to Prosperity, put out last year and this year.

To see how his plans have evolved over the past five or so years, CRFB put together a comparison of all four plans. Below is a sample of what is contained in the table.

For his part, Vice President Biden was involved in budget negotiations during the debt ceiling debate and should be able to speak at length tonight on fiscal policy and the President's plan. Like the Ryan plan, the President's budget has evolved over the past couple years. Under the President's FY 2012 budget, debt was projected to keep growing relative to the economy, while the FY 2013 budget would stabilize the debt, albeit at relatively high level of 76 percent of the economy. Finally, the recent Mid-Session Review of the FY 2013 budget showed debt on a slight downward path as a share of the economy later in the decade but not over the long-term. The main differences between this year's budget and last year's budget are additional health care savings and revenues.

If anything, it should be an interesting conversation between two individuals who have been heavily involved with fiscal policy. Check out our live fact checking or follow us on Twitter at @BudgetHawks to get our reactions and fact checking from tonight's debate.