In recent months, many on the left have accused the Republicans in Congress of being simply the party of “no”. President Obama himself has accused congressional Republicans of just sitting on the sidelines and hoping for him to fail because they’ve made a political calculation that if he fails, they’ll win in November.
The problem with this accusation is that it is completely false. Do Republicans and conservatives want Obama’s agenda to fail? Of course! We know that his agenda will ruin America as we know and love it. We know that taxing more wealth away from the private sector and spending trillions of dollars that we don’t have will only further stagnate our already fragile economy and ultimately, as predicted by economist Art Laffer, could lead to a secondary collapse of the economy – otherwise known as a double-dip recession.
The point of this post is to discuss some of the ideas percolating on the Right. Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin put together “A Roadmap for America’s Future”.
At this website, one can read all about the fine detail of Rep. Ryan’s plan. I want to highlight several of the more interesting topics and discuss why these ideas represent real solutions to our problems as a nation, instead of the Obama/Pelosi/Reid agenda of expanded taxation, spending, and borrowing.
Healthcare – Repeal the PPACA (Obamacare) and Replace with a plan that:
Provides a refundable tax credit – $2,300 for individuals and $5,700 for families – to purchase coverage in any State, and keep it with them if they move or change jobs.
Provides transparency in health care price and quality data, making this critical information readily available before someone needs health services.
Creates state-based health care exchanges, so individuals and families have a one-stop marketplace to purchase affordable health insurance without being discriminated against based on pre-existing conditions.
Equips states with tools like auto-enrollment programs and high-risk pools, so affordable health coverage can be accessed by all.
Addresses health care’s growing strain on small businesses, by allowing them to pool together nationally to offer coverage to their employees.
Encourages the adoption of health information technology and assists states in establishing solutions to medical malpractice litigation.
The Roadmap secures Medicare for current beneficiaries, while making common-sense reforms to save this critical program.
It preserves the existing Medicare program for those currently enrolled or becoming eligible in the next 10 years (those 55 and older today) - So Americans can receive the benefits they planned for throughout their working lives. For those currently under 55 – as they become Medicare-eligible – it creates a Medicare payment, initially averaging $11,000, to be used to purchase a Medicare certified plan. The payment is adjusted to reflect medical inflation, and pegged to income, with low-income individuals receiving greater support. The plan also provides risk adjustment, so those with greater medical needs receive a higher payment.
The proposal also fully funds Medical Savings Accounts [MSAs] for low-income beneficiaries, while continuing to allow all beneficiaries, regardless of income, to set up tax-free MSAs.
Based on consultation with the Office of the Actuary of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and using Congressional Budget Office [CBO] these reforms will make Medicare permanently solvent
Modernizes Medicaid and strengthens the health care safety net by reforming high-risk pools, giving States maximum flexibility to tailor Medicaid programs to the specific needs of their populations. Allows Medicaid recipients to take part in the same variety of options and high-quality care available to everyone through the tax credit option.
The proposal strengthens this important retirement program and makes it sustainable for the long term.
Preserves the existing Social Security program for those 55 or older.
Offers workers under 55 the option of investing over one third of their current Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts, similar to the Thrift Savings Plan available to Federal employees. Includes a property right so they can pass on these assets to their heirs, and a guarantee that individuals will not lose a dollar they contribute to their accounts, even after inflation.
Makes the program permanently solvent – according to the Congressional Budget Office [CBO] – by combining a more realistic measure of growth in Social Security’s initial benefits, with an eventual modernization of the retirement age.
The retirement age slowly increases to age 70, but it is a VERY slow increase (1 month every two years)
This plan discards a needlessly complex and manipulative tax code, replacing it with a simplified mechanism that promotes work, saving, and investment.
Provides individual income tax payers a choice of how to pay their taxes – through existing law, or through a highly simplified code that fits on a postcard with just two rates and virtually no special tax deductions, credits, or exclusions (except the health care tax credit).
Simplifies tax rates to 10 percent on income up to $100,000 for joint filers, and $50,000 for single filers; and 25 percent on taxable income above these amounts. Also includes a generous standard deduction and personal exemption (totaling $39,000 for a family of four).
Eliminates the alternative minimum tax [AMT].
Promotes saving by eliminating taxes on interest, capital gains, and dividends; also eliminates the death tax.
Replaces the corporate income tax – currently the second highest in the industrialized world – with a border-adjustable business consumption tax of 8.5 percent. This new rate is roughly half that of the rest of the industrialized world.
The Roadmap prepares the Nation’s workforce for success in the global economy by creating incentives for States to transform conventional Federal job training into a flexible, dynamic program focused on results, accompanied by clear measures of transparency and accountability.
One reason the Federal Government’s major entitlement programs are difficult to control is that they are designed that way. A second is that current congressional budgeting provides no means of identifying the long-term effects of near-term program expansions. A third is that these programs are not subject to regular review, as annually appropriated discretionary programs are; and as a result, Congress rarely evaluates the costs and effectiveness of entitlements except when it is proposing to enlarge them. Nothing can substitute for sound and prudent policy choices. But an improved budget process, with enforceable limits on total spending, would surely be a step forward. This proposal calls for such a reform.
This summary highlights the main points of Rep. Ryan’s plan for America’s future. I believe that it is imperative for our success as a nation that we implement these ideas as soon as possible. Despite what liberals (in both parties) tell you, we cannot sustain the level of spending that we currently have. We must get our debt under control or we will be facing austerity measures like they now have in Greece. We need to reduce the tax burden on everyone – but ESPECIALLY the most industrious and hardest working among us – to keep ourselves competitive in a global economy.
I encourage you to take a hard look at these ideas and offer questions, criticisms, and comments. We need to have a debate about ideas. I support Rep. Ryan’s plan of lower taxes, decreased spending, and ACTUAL entitlement reform. It is a breath of fresh air from a Republican party that has for too long grown comfy handing out the bacon.