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The Paul Ryan budget: 5 go-to sources for understanding it

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3. National Priorities Project

The National Priorities Project (NPP) provides a side-by-side comparison of Ryan's and President Obama’s plans, as well as an alternative budget by the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), which was introduced in the House of Representatives at the same time as the Ryan plan.

The chart format may not be the snazziest of the NPP’s many budget explainers, but it’s useful. Readers can quickly see how the three plans differ. For example, Mr. Obama’s and the CPC’s plans call for no changes to SNAP (the food stamp program), while Ryan’s plan would create a block grant for SNAP and make cuts over the next 10 years. Obama’s plan calls for $350 billion in spending to create jobs over the next several years, and the CPC’s calls for $2.9 trillion over 10 years, while Ryan's plan does not outline specific job-creation initiatives.

The NPP's goal is to explain to Americans where their tax dollars are spent and how citizens can influence government budget decisions. A donor-funded organization, its website is user-friendly and provides many tools to explain how the federal budget works.

The NPP has a page just for budget basics, with answers to questions such as “Where does the money come from?” and with breakdowns of sources of tax revenue. Discretionary spending, mandatory spending, and total spending are portrayed in colorful, clickable pie charts. The NPP also has several interactive features that let users input information about their taxes and their state to see how their tax money is being used.

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