Today, House budget chairman Rep Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveiled the GOP 2012 budget. While DC currently debates whether to shave $30 billion or $60 billion off of 2011’s budget, new budget proposals for next year and beyond bring the savings into the trillions. Utah’s Jason Chaffetz joined him for the unveiling.
It seems that everyone agrees that both Democrats and Republicans are responsible the looming crisis, yet the last couple of years have seen an acceleration of our debt and spending that is unprecedented. According to a Wall Street Journal editorial by Rep Ryan, “Major spending increases have failed to deliver promised jobs. The safety net for the poor is coming apart at the seams. Government health and retirement programs are growing at unsustainable rates. The new health-care law is a fiscal train wreck. And a complex, inefficient tax code is holding back American families and businesses.”
Further, “The president’s recent budget proposal would accelerate America’s descent into a debt crisis. It doubles debt held by the public by the end of his first term and triples it by 2021. It imposes $1.5 trillion in new taxes, with spending that never falls below 23% of the economy. His budget permanently enlarges the size of government. It offers no reforms to save government health and retirement programs, and no leadership.”
The GOP budget, in contrast, cuts $6.2 trillion from the president’s budget, reduces debt to approximately 20% of GDP and gets us on the path to actually pay off our national debt. It also reduces deficits by $4.4 trillion and still maintains a safety net system.
Medicaid reform – one of the “entitlements” people mean when they talk about “entitlement reform” – would be converted into a block-grant system to be administered by each state. Utah just did that in the 2011 legislative session. It also proposes that same type of reforms for the food-stamp program, eliminating the perverse incentive of rewarding states each time they grow their food-stamp rolls. These reforms will strengthen and improve these safety net programs for the people who truly need them, yet we will be able to eliminate welfare for those who do not – like Wall Street.
There are also proposed changes to Medicare. Representative Ryan explained:
The open-ended, blank-check nature of the Medicare subsidy threatens the solvency of this critical program and creates inexcusable levels of waste. This budget takes action where others have ducked. But because government should not force people to reorganize their lives, its reforms will not affect those in or near retirement in any way.
Starting in 2022, new Medicare beneficiaries will be enrolled in the same kind of health-care program that members of Congress enjoy. Future Medicare recipients will be able to choose a plan that works best for them from a list of guaranteed coverage options. This is not a voucher program but rather a premium-support model. A Medicare premium-support payment would be paid, by Medicare, to the plan chosen by the beneficiary, subsidizing its cost.
In addition, Medicare will provide increased assistance for lower-income beneficiaries and those with greater health risks. Reform that empowers individuals—with more help for the poor and the sick—will guarantee that Medicare can fulfill the promise of health security for America’s seniors.
Does more need to be done? Absolutely. But this is a good start.