Saturday, August 28, 2010

Rep. Paul Ryan, and the Road Map to…

There are many ways to look at the Ryan road to destruction, so here are just a few:

Huffington Post: How Democrats should be playing defense … should … force a vote on the Republican budget plan that has rightwing pundits all excited … bring the "Ryan budget" to a vote. If Republicans vote for the Ryan Budget, they will be voting to do what Republican paymasters like the Koch brothers have always wanted, but the electorate has never been sucked into supporting -- privatize Social Security, scale down Medicare until it is worthless. Remember Newt Gingrich's reverie, "Social Security and Medicare will be left to wither on the vine"?

Washington Times: The official legislative version of Mr. Ryan's plan stretches to 629 pages and touches on all areas: It would turn Medicare and Medicaid into vouchers to pay for private insurance, with spending increases tightly controlled; it would peg Social Security increases to slower-rising prices rather than wages, and would allow personal investment accounts as part of the program; and it would overhaul the tax code, removing most deductions and special carve-outs for individuals, and replacing the corporate income tax with a consumption tax.

Forbes: Paul Van de Water of the nonpartisan Center on Budget & Policy Priorities points out that, by one analysis, the plan will slash by 50% the income tax liability of the richest 1% in 2014 while 75% of all Americans will see their tax burdens rise, partly due to the consumption tax being passed on to consumers. Ryan counters that his tax system is progressive, even though it lowers tax rates on the rich, because it cuts out itemized deductions and loopholes frequently enjoyed by wealthy earners. Moreover, the idea behind lowering taxes isn't to redistribute income, he says; it's to encourage investment in the U.S.

Ryan admits his plan for Social Security could lead to lower benefits for people now under 55. "We don't have a choice," he says. These younger workers would … (have an) investment account managed by Uncle Sam but subject to market fluctuations. According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, the Ryan roadmap would decrease revenue by $4 trillion over the next ten years.

Washington Post: One of the big Republican ideas for reforming Medicare is to turn it into a program of vouchers … Paul Ryan's plan, for instance. But that's not how these reforms save money. They save money by limiting the generosity of the vouchers. Because the dirty little secret is that turning Medicare into a voucher program would actually make it cost much, much more. How do we know? According to the nonpartisan … the private Medicare Advantage plans are a (voluntary) voucher system … a fixed monthly payment from Medicare … With it, beneficiaries can select from any Advantage plan operating in their county … the market-based arm of the program costs more, not less, per beneficiary … on average, 13 percent above fee-for-service Medicare costs.

ajc: Writing in the Washington Examiner, libertarian Gene Healy argues that the dust-up is a distraction: “The ‘mosque’ controversy isn’t about property rights or religious freedom. It’s a bogus issue seized by the GOP establishment to distract the rank-and-file from the party’s reluctance to shrink government. . .

You see, cutting government is hard, and often unpopular. No surprise … Boehner would rather play urban planner than embrace Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan’s “road map” for shrinking middle-class entitlements. Feed the rubes conservative identity politics, and, with luck, they’ll be too distracted to notice you’ve grafted a Republican “K Street Project” atop the same old edifice of Big Government.

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