On one side of Washington, the fringe-right of the GOP is using the budget crisis and Tea-Party momentum as an excuse to cut into those social and cultural programs they don’t like. The Speaker and others with more practical goals look miserable. On the other side of town, Harry Reed and the Democrats remain in denial about the consequences of their tax-and-spend antics. Where’s the President? Waiting it out like a true politician, hoping to make hay for next year’s election. He’s certainly not proposing any reforms or worthwhile fiscal policy.
The President’s many admirers in the media like to refer to him as “the grownup in the room”, but it’s a Congressman from Wisconsin who’s showing the moxy and vision we need. Paul Ryan unveiled a long-term budget plan yesterday. It’s ambitious. It cut’s approximately $6 Trillion according to his figures. And here’s the thing: it addresses the unsustainable burden of Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security.
If you’re paying attention, you’ll recall that Medicare/Medicaid, Social Security, and Defense Spending comprise the holy trinity responsible for the lion’s share of U.S. spending. Meanwhile, the rest of the Democrats and Republicans are niggling over cuts to everything else, turning a blind eye to the true fiscal problems.
It’s a bold and risky movie, acknowledged by Ryan as he made the rounds yesterday. And sure enough, Nancy Pelosi issued a vague statement about ‘starving seniors” while the MSNBC crowd pitched this as the “death of Medicare”. There are reasons why the politicians don’t want to tackle these entitlements. Seniors vote and they like their healthcare. But we have to do this. We cannot continue down the current path.
Ryan’s plan would not affect those 55 or older, and the reconfiguration of Medicare/Medicaid for younger people would mirror the current Federal employee system, allowing consumers to choose from local/state providers with funds managed through the states. As an Illinois resident, the prospect of more money, authority, and potential for mis-management in Springfield scares the hell out of me , but that’s another matter. The plan also streamlines the current corporate tax rate – reducing it to 25% but eliminating the loopholes that allow a company like G.E. to pay no taxes. The plan also savages Obama-care too; which is fine by me. I like some of the provisions within the President’s Healthcare plan, but we just have to accept that we cannot afford it.
There’s no doubt that politics are in play with Ryan’s plan. It sets out a bold marker and actually addresses some of the drivers of our debt. But many Republicans will remain silent on the matter, fearing for their next re-election bid. It may not be anti-science and anti-arts enough for some them. Democrats will play the scare-card without offering an alternative. They can’t; their whole platform is based on providing benefits at government expense to their constituents. Our grown-up President scratches his chin and says little of substance. The show goes on.
But do yourself a favor and at least become familiar with Ryan’s plan and the arguments around it. You owe it to your kids and grandkids to consider the ramifications. Because this is certainly the most important issue in the next election cycle.