Source:Talking Points Memo– U.S. Representative Paul Ryan (Republican, Wisconsin) Chairman of the House Budget Committee.
“Discussion of the House Republican budget has focused mostly on the privatization of Medicare, the block-granting of Medicaid, and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. And that’s appropriate, given the magnitude of the changes and widespread impact they would have. But those proposals are obscuring some other proposed shifts that, in any other context, would be plenty troubling for their own sake. This week I’ll highlight five of them. On Monday, I talked about radical changes to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP). Today I return to a health care issue:”
From The New Republic
Well it looks like it’s official: the House GOP Leadership wants to end Medicare and Medicaid, not just reform them, but end them. They believe they can balance the Federal budget on the backs of the people who need these social insurance programs.
At first House Republicans were only concentrating on 13% of the Federal budget (or 481B$ in a 3.7T$ Federal budget) with a budget deficit of 1.6T$ and a national debt of roughly 14T$, but then they would only offer budget cuts of around 50-60B$ a year. It would be at least twenty years before they could balance the budget at that pace.
But now the House GOP has stepped up their game with Medicare and Medicaid, two health insurance programs that together are over 700B$ a year. They represent 20% of the Federal budget. I don’t like what they are doing here, but at least they are talking about real money now. And at least put something on the table.
But the House GOP has two problems: one on substance and the other political. Turning Medicare into a voucher system and forcing people off of Medicare, cuts back choice in Medicare. Senior citizens wouldn’t be able to choose Medicare for their health insurance. That cuts back on choice, which is both a policy as well a political problem for the House GOP Leadership.
From a political perspective I want Congressional Democrats as well as the White House to treat the GOP Medicare plan for what it is and go after it. Try to make it as unpopular as the Affordable Care Act was in 2010. House GOP fundraising totals are down and their members are feeling the heat from their Medicare vote of a few weeks ago. While at the same time the White House and the Democratic Senate led by the Democratic Leadership should be offering their own proposals to reform Medicare and Medicaid. As well a broader approach to cutting the deficit and debt.
What the White House offered a couple of weeks ago is not serious. Its mainly goals and objectives, not a serious policy document. President Obama hasn’t been serious in this debate yet. Even though he is the President, he’s been waiting for the House GOP to go first, so he can use this issue against him. And his approval rating has fallen.
Both Medicare and Medicaid need to be reformed, but not to the extent where they are no longer familiar, or no longer in operation, but where they are both cost-effective and provide a better service.
We can’t balance our budget without addressing these two programs that represent over 20% of the Federal budget. Just like we can’t balance the budget without addressing the Defense Department. Another 20% of the Federal Budget.
Representative Paul Ryan would have more credibility on fiscal responsibility, if he addressed national defense and the waste in that as well. Like defending developed nations that can afford to defend themselves. But he hasn’t done that and has instead taken an ideological route to deficit reduction and offering a plan that he knows is DOA in the Senate. Meaning the President would never even get a chance to veto it.