American Elephants

Paul Ryan Boldly Goes On Offense! by The Elephant's Child

Paul Ryan is going on offense. The budget, the failure of the President to produce one, and the failure of the Senate to pass one are a national crisis.  Democrats’ stubborn and disgraceful refusal to deal with it, because they would rather play politics, is also a national crisis. Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI), Chairman of the House Budget Committee not only understands the problems intellectually, but can explain them clearly. Listen to him.

So-called entitlements are the big problem. These are payments that the federal government has promised to individuals: Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. The Social Security problem is largely demographic. We have seen the baby boom generation growing older, and listened to years of warnings about the need to reform Social Security so that it would be available for future seniors. Democrats have fought tooth and nail to avoid even a discussion of the problem.

Medicare is partly a demographic problem, but it is also a problem of rising medical costs. Cat-scans and MRIs don’t come cheap. Conditions are cured that could never be cured before. New drugs save and extend life. And government regulations interfere and raise costs unnecessarily. Democrats assertions that Republicans are trying to destroy Medicare “as we know it” are absurd. They have already reformed it and in a way that promises rationing and less access to care, in the ObamaCare law.

Paul Ryan has developed a way out of this mess — the “Path to Prosperity”, showing that we can fix our problems if we don’t just kick the problem down the road. He offers it as a starting point, not the only possibility. What he does show is that there is a way out.  We have the time, if we act promptly, to forestall collapse of these programs.

The Democrats’ solution is ably demonstrated by Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the new Chairman of the Democrat National Committee. First – duck the question because the Democrats have already destroyed Medicare as we know it.  Second – keep pretending that we can pay for the program indefinitely by raising taxes on the rich and slashing Defense.  Third – wait for Medicare to go broke (soon, and the new Medicare is hastening the day) and blame Republicans.

Government Elites Picking Winners and Losers? Bad Idea! by The Elephant's Child

Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI), the Chairman of the House Budget Committee, laid out his “Path to Prosperity” 2012 budget plan on Monday in a speech to the Economic Club of Chicago. He also discussed how the U.S. government reached this big-spending tipping point.

“By the end of the decade, we will be spending 20 percent of our tax revenue simply paying interest on the debt — and that’s according to optimistic projections.  If ratings agencies such as S&P move from downgrading our outlook to downgrading our credit, then interest rates will rise even higher, and debt service will cost trillions more.

This course is not sustainable.  That isn’t an opinion; it’s a mathematical certainty.  If we continue down our current path, we are walking right into the most preventable crisis in our nation’s history.”

A video of his speech is available here. Paul Ryan is terrific. He is clear, concise, and explains where we are and why we can’t go on kicking the problem down the road in the hopes that something will turn up.

If you don’t watch the speech — and it is long but worth your time, for this is the most important issue of our time — this is what you should remember:

The President’s plan begins with trillions of dollars in higher taxes, and it relies on a plan to control costs in Medicare that would give a board of 15 unelected bureaucrats in Washington the power to deeply ration care. This would disrupt the lives of those currently in retirement and lead to waiting lists for today’s seniors. The disagreement isn’t really about the problem. It’s about the solution to controlling costs in Medicare.

And if I could sum up that disagreement in a couple of sentences, I would say this: Our plan is to give seniors the power to deny business to inefficient providers. Their plan is to give government the power to deny care to seniors.

… That’s the real class warfare that threatens us — a class of governing elites picking winners and losers, and determining our destinies for us.   (emphasis added)

The Medicare actuary, Richard Foster, says that the Medicare Hospital Insurance trust fund is scheduled to be depleted in 2024, five years earlier than projected in last year’s report. Medicare prices would be considerably below the current level of Medicaid prices — which have already led to access problems for Medicaid enrollees, and far below the levels paid b private health insurance. Congress wold have in intervene to prevent the withdrawal of providers from the Medicare market, and severe problems with access to care.

His projections do not represent, he says, a reasonable expectation for actual program operations in the short run or the long run. The double-counting Democrats put in to make the law look good, and the unrealistic cuts will mean that the federal government will go even deeper into debt, making a way out even harder to find.

In other words, it’s not going to work. We need to repeal ObamaCare. The problems we can see now are only a beginning.

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