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Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security: Representative Paul Ryan Faces the Realities

WASHINGTON DC – The White House and Democrat leaders blasted Representative Paul Ryan’s (R) latest budget plan as unrealistic. Jay Carney, White House Press Secretary, went so far as to say that anyone who supports it must be “deliberately ignorant” and have “severely diminished capacity.”

Escalation of liberal rhetoric concerning Ryan’s budget proposal included numerous Democrats and people in the media using terms like “extreme,” and “damaging” to describe it. A statement from House Democrats called it “a vicious plot to destroy our nation’s promise.”

But with Democrats rushing to best one another with budget criticism, Representative Ryan says the stakes are simply too high for him to stay quiet. “If we simply operate based on political fear, nothing is ever going to get done,” he said Tuesday. “If we allow entitlement politics, fear that your adversaries will turn your reforms into a political weapon to use against you, and we cow to that, then America is going to have a debt crisis.”

Ryan and a few other lawmakers understand what apparently others in Washington and elsewhere do not; our nation’s social safety net is frayed and in a danger of come apart at the seams.

Ryan offers just one such example of the problem that must be fixed in the Medicaid program. Since it was created in 1965, the program has mushroomed from $400 million to $400 billion per year. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Service projects that costs will double in just a decade to $804 billion. With a mounting national deficit and a number of key states experiencing deep fiscal problems, the hard truth is something must be done sooner rather than later.

Ryan’s plan would transform Medicaid into a block grant system indexed to inflation and population growth. This would allow the 50 states the flexibility to adapt the program according to their distinctive needs while serving as laboratories for cost-saving techniques.

Medicare is in even worse shape than Medicaid. The Congressional Budget Office projects the cost of Medicare will rise from 3.7 percent of GDP to 14 percent by 2085.  Over the last century tax revenues have been generally around 18 percent of GDP. Should the cost of these two programs increase on their present trajectory that would mean Washington will be left with just 4 percent of GDP to spend on every other budget item from Social Security to Defense.

Paul Ryan’s The Path to Prosperity budget plan offers a pioneering solution that blends options for a conventional fee-for-service option and a premium-support system by which beneficiaries receive an amount of money to spend on health care as they choose. The idea is to force health care plans to bid in a competitive market rather than depend on government mandates or unworkable price controls to keep prices down.

Ryan’s plan also seeks to reform Social Security which is becoming an increasing burden on young adults. “When Social Security was first enacted in 1935, each worker, on average, was contributing less than 2.5 percent of a retiree’s benefits. By 2030, each wage earner will be paying for nearly half of each retired person’s full benefits.” says Ryan. “This is a massive shift of earnings away from younger families trying to build their futures, toward Social Security recipients.”

The conclusion to these numbers is undeniable; unless reforms are enacted, the Social Security system will have to radically reduce promised benefits for future generations. A concerted bipartisan effort is needed to address the demographic changes in our society and ensure the solvency of Social Security.

Rather than offer its own plan to face the future, the White House and fellow Democrats have chosen the path of demagoguery and ridicule. “Democrats are poised to attack the GOP plan as one that would destroy the safety net for seniors and renege on an earlier agreement over government spending levels,” reports Lisa Mascaro in the LA Times.

White House spokesman Carney his criticisms further when questioned the intellectual competency of the Republican lawmakers backing the bill.

“You have to be aggressively and deliberately ignorant of the world economy not to know and understand that clean energy technologies are going to play a huge role in the 21st century,” he said. “You have to have severely diminished capacity to understand what drives economic growth in industrialized countries in this century if you do not understand that education is the key that unlocks the door to prosperity.  The budget proposed by Chairman Ryan and supported overwhelmingly already by Republicans suggests that those problems exist in the minds of the supporters of that plan.”

The only one showing incompetency in this argument in is White House’s number one spokesman. Rather than confront the realities of shifting demographics and Federal systems that are broken, he defers to leftwing darling issues like green energy. And when that doesn’t work, it seems name calling will do.

But Paul Ryan’s budget isn’t about conflict. It’s about presenting an opportunity. An opportunity, as Ryan states, “for this generation of Americans to rise to the challenge, as previous generations have, and fulfill this nation’s unique legacy of leaving future generations with a freer, more prosperous America.”

©2012 Off the Grid News

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