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Ryan’s rescue plan

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March 22, 2012 | comments

By Boston Herald Editorial Staff

Months ago many in his party were clamoring for Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) to jump into the presidential race. But he knew that the job he already had as chairman of the House Budget Committee was just as critical to the nation’s future.

This week he once again stepped into that deepening leadership gap in Washington, D.C., the one left wide open by a president who apparently wants to turn us into Greece. And in doing so Ryan proved he has the courage and the intellectual firepower to lead the Congress and the nation to a better place.

At the heart of the new Republican budget plan is an effort to simplify the tax code for individuals, reducing the current six income brackets to two (10 percent and 25 percent), lower the corporate tax rate to 25 percent (from 35 percent, the highest in the developed world) and close some loopholes — all aimed at growing the economy. No talk of class warfare here, just an effort to reduce the deficit with some sensible spending discipline.

And instead of growing the national debt as a share of gross domestic product (it currently consumes about 73 percent of the economy), gradually reducing that by about 15 percent over the next 10 years.

The Ryan plan also tackles that third rail of American politics — Medicare.

“Absent reform, government programs designed in the middle of the 20th century cannot fulfill their promises into the 21st century. It is a mathematical and demographic impossibility,” Ryan wrote in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal.

Medicare does need to change, but a president running for re-election doesn’t have the courage to say so. The Ryan plan would impact only those age 55 and under now. It would raise the current age of eligibility from 65 to 67 and it would preserve a fee-for-service option to seniors a decade from now, but also provide a voucher-like program in which Washington subsidizes the purchase of private insurance.

While Democrats no doubt can’t wait to run yet another commercial of a Ryan look-alike throwing some senior citizen off a cliff, the truth is that the only way to save Medicare is to change it. But courage is at a premium on Capitol Hill this year and Ryan’s plan will likely languish. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t the right path.


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