Ryan touts his 'path to prosperity' plan
By JENNIFER EPSTEIN
Ahead of the release of his full proposal later Tuesday, House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan is touting his 2012 budget and an estimated $6.2 trillion in cuts over the next decade as a “path to prosperity” for a country he says is in danger of decline.
With a government shutdown looming as a distinct possibility by the end of the week, Ryan’s sights are set on the longer term, warning in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Monday night that fiscal catastrophe will result without real action. Ryan also released a three-minute video “visualization” of his proposal, with graphics illustrating the abstract proposals he’s talking about.
“America is facing a defining moment,” he writes. “The threat posed by our monumental debt will damage our country in profound ways, unless we act.”
Discretionary spending cuts, entitlement reform, tax reform and caps on spending are all part of the equation that Ryan is releasing on behalf of House Republicans.
Spending for domestic government agencies would be cut back to 2008 levels, Ryan writes, and frozen at that level for five years. Ryan does not propose sweeping defense cuts, but his proposal does include “ accepting Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s plan to target inefficiencies at the Pentagon,” he writes. A Government Accountability Office audit found $70 billion in waste at the Pentagon in the last two years.
Ryan’s budget also “forces” reforms to Social Security and Medicare.
“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,” he writes, proposing that beginning in 2022, beneficiaries will get the same kind of health care coverage that members of Congress receive.
Over the longer term, recipients will be given a list of options to choose from, with Medicare subsidizing part of the cost in what Ryan describes as “not a voucher program but rather a premium-support model.”
Ryan provides scant details on his plans to reform Social Security, though he does say the plan builds on proposals generated by the president’s bipartisan fiscal commission.
The budget would also reform welfare, focusing on finding ways to get people off the government rolls and into jobs — an idea Republicans have long stressed, and a budget line that they’ve tried to cut many times before. The proposal would also change how the federal government funds state Medicaid programs and reform the food stamp program.
The budget would also target “corporate welfare,” Ryan writes, ending taxpayer support for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, eliminating congressional power to bail out companies, and cutting down on “expensive handouts for uncompetitive sources of energy, calling instead for a free and open marketplace for energy development, innovation and exploration.”
The proposal also includes ideas for reforming the tax code and enforcing limits on how much the government spends.
In all, Ryan writes, it amounts to a plan that “offers the nation a model of government that is guided by the timeless principles of the American idea: free-market democracy, open competition, a robust private sector bound by rules of honesty and fairness, a secure safety net, and equal opportunity for all under a limited constitutional government of popular consent.”
“We can reform government so that people don’t have to reorient their lives for less,” he writes. “We can grow our economy, promote opportunity, and encourage upward mobility. This budget is the new House majority’s answer to history’s call. It is now up to all of us to keep America exceptional.”