Ryan answers questions from Wisconsinites on health care, reforming the tax code, and the fiscal challenges before us
Last week, Congressman Paul Ryan talked with First District residents in Waukesha, Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha Counties about legislation before Congress and answered questions regarding the federal government. Excerpts of Congressman Ryan’s responses follow.
Providing solutions to the challenges facing this country
What’s frustrating for those of us who are here putting solutions on the table is that the people we need to work with – the Senate and the President – have decided not offer any solutions of their own and so that’s where we find ourselves. If we don’t have willing partners who want to put budgets on the table or put solutions out to tackle this great problem that’s before us – then at least I’m going to put one out there and show what I would do to solve this country’s problems.
I have tried to tackle this problem by offering solutions. Solutions on how to prevent this debt from occurring, solutions on how to get this economy growing, solutions to actually balance our budget and pay off our debt. It’s my job as Chairman of the Budget Committee; it’s my job as your representative.
I have every reason to believe that we can turn this around before we have a debt crisis. I have every reason to believe that if we get our policies right, get our spending under control, get back to a welfare-to-work kind of safety net, stop borrowing so much money and get our tax system fixed so that we don’t tax our small businesses so much more than everybody else. Then we can get to a growth economy so we can get better jobs with better wages and that’s what we’re trying to do.
Preserving the American Idea by reducing our debt
I believe in the idea of our country, which is a country that promotes equal opportunity so we can make the most of our lives as citizens. We have always had a society that we’ve referred to as an opportunity society with a safety net to catch people from falling through the cracks and to help them get back on their feet. That system is really in peril.
The reason that system is at risk is because of our debt. We are borrowing so much money, more than ever before. Forty cents of every single dollar that the federal government spends is borrowed money and what happens when a government borrows so much money and racks up such a huge credit card debt, is it gets so big that it can crash the economy.
Reforming our antiquated and complex tax code
What our budget does is it targets bringing the same amount of revenues into the federal government as we do today but through a tax system that we think is more equitable, fairer, with fewer loopholes and fewer tax shelters. By broadening the tax base, you can lower the tax rates and that’s what we propose.
Competition in health care lowers prices and raises quality
In the past, giving seniors choices of plans to pick from and making those plans compete against each other for their business has resulted in brining costs down and quality up. The Medicare drug benefit worked like this, and it came in 41% below cost estimates because these plans compete against each other for the senior citizens’ business. If a senior doesn’t like the plan or wants a different plan, he or she can change it every year, and having that choice and competition - like what we have in Congress and federal employees have - makes the benefit more comprehensive, lowers cost and increases quality.
Addressing the root causes of health care inflation
As a country, we spend two and a half times more on health care per person than any other nation, so we’re not spending our money intelligently and a lot of it is being wasted. There’s a lot of waste in health care and we think if we have a better system that operates in such a way that you are the nucleus of the health care system – you and your family – and the healthcare providers – the insurers, the hospitals, the doctors – have to compete against each other for your business, we think that will work really well to help stretch each dollar farther, to get more for our money in America for healthcare. That’s not how the system works today. It’s a system of monopolies, of oligopolies, of government price controls, and it really has resulted in a system that costs us a whole lot more money than we should ever be paying.
On eliminating cronyism in the tax code & increasing American-made energy
What we’re saying on corporate tax reform is: get rid of all the loopholes for every company and lower all of their tax rates – not just oil companies, but everybody. Regarding this particular benefit - the one that President Obama talks about - a number of years ago, Congress made a decision that we wanted to incentivize American-made manufacturing so in 2003 Congress lowered the tax rate on all American manufacturers, so that if you made something in America versus overseas, you paid a lower tax rate than if you make it overseas.
Now, the President is saying is this is a big giveaway to oil companies but it’s actually anybody who makes anything in America pays a lower tax rate. If you make steel, if you make computers, if you make cars, if you drill for oil, if you produce food, you pay a 32% tax rate instead of a 35% tax rate. And so, the President’s proposal is to make oil companies, who produce energy here in America, pay that 35% tax rate, instead of the 32% tax rate. What that will end up doing is singling out this one sector of our economy, domestic oil and gas, and having them pay a higher tax rate that no other American-based manufacturer pays.