Friday, April 08, 2011

"Fine, What's Yours?"

Got a Better Plan? 

 Rich Lowry, National Review Online, April 8, 2011 12:00 A.M. - If Democrats think the Ryan budget is too radical, let them offer a credible alternative.
One of House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan’s favorite phrases is “adult conversation.” As in, we need to have an adult conversation about the nation’s fiscal challenges. With the release of his budget resolution, Ryan is beginning the discussion even if his purported conversational partners on the other side of the aisle insist on banging their cups on their highchairs and wailing.

Three inescapable realities drive the federal budget: We spend too much on health care, we are growing older, and we face an alarming federal debt. Ryan is daring to tell the country how he’d react to this in a stark instance of reality-based budgeting. His implicit challenge to those who reject his solution is, “Fine, what’s yours?”

Health-care costs are far outpacing inflation, and Medicare is growing at twice the rate of the economy. The two trends are related: Medicare’s blank-check payment system contributes to soaring medical costs. Beginning in 2022, Ryan would give new Medicare beneficiaries a subsidy to buy their own insurance. It would bring consumer choice and competitive pressure to an area sorely lacking them. Maybe you think this reform of Medicare — which has an ungodly unfunded liability over the next 75 years — is too radical. Fine, what’s yours?

As we age as a society, the burden of maintaining our old-age entitlements falls more heavily on young workers. The Ryan budget notes that in 1950, 16.5 workers supported each Social Security recipient. In 2000, it was 3.4 workers. In 2040, it will be 2.1. Ryan’s budget would force the president, working with Social Security’s trustees, to submit a proposal to right the program’s fiscal balance. This path might strike you as too timid — or too bold. Fine, what’s yours?

The Ryan budget controls federal spending and brings it below 20 percent of GDP by 2015. It reduces the deficit $4.4 trillion compared with Pres. Barack Obama’s budget over the next ten years and reaches so-called primary balance — a balanced budget outside of interest payments on the debt — by 2015. Obama would keep adding to the debt at a prodigious clip, almost doubling it from its current $14 trillion to $26 trillion over ten years. Perhaps Ryan’s method of controlling the debt is not to your liking. Fine, what’s yours?

Ryan keeps tax revenue at the historic level of roughly 18 percent, and brings both the top personal and the top corporate tax rates down to 25 percent while eliminating deductions and loopholes. This reform — designed to make the tax code simpler and more pro-growth — might strike you as “unfair.” Fine, what’s yours? (read entire article here)

"House Budget chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) must have been one of those elementary-school kids who spent recess fine-tuning his homework while the other boys and girls climbed trees and yanked each other’s hair. Little has changed as many of those children won congressional seats. They are older, but hardly wiser." - Deroy Murdock