Last week, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-WI, unveiled “The Path to Prosperity,” a budget that reduces federal spending by about $6.2 trillion over 10 years. Ryan said his plan is necessary because the Congressional Budget Office “canâÄôt conceive of any way in which the economy can continue past the year 2037 because of debt burdens.”
Despite being considered a radical budget by its Democratic opponents, The Path to Prosperity only reduces government spending to 2008 levels. That is far from radical.
The unprecedented spending increases âÄî $535 billion in additional spending for 2009 alone âÄî and the damage excessive spending is causing to the fiscal wellbeing of this nation are radical.
Nevertheless, The Path to Prosperity has sparked some controversy. Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the bill is its restructuring of Medicare.
Under the plan, starting in 2022, seniors would enjoy what members of Congress do. Americans would gain guaranteed coverage with any private health insurance plan with the premium supported with Medicare funds. Lower-income beneficiaries will receive more toward their plan than wealthy beneficiaries.
Often seen as the elephant in the room, Medicare is a main driver in budget problems because it serves an aging population. But it is difficult to restructure because people fear they will lose benefits âÄî and politicians fear they will lose their jobs.
The Path to Prosperity preserves Medicare while also ensuring that it is structured in a way that doesnâÄôt continue to lead this country to bankruptcy.
Kent Conrad, D-N.D., an opponent to the plan called the cuts “draconian,” and others insist that those on Medicare see reduced benefits.
Quite the opposite is true. Because of the dire fiscal situation, any funding cut from a government program protects it from elimination. The Medicare restructure is necessary to preserve benefits.
Bear in mind that RyanâÄôs plan contrasts with President Barack ObamaâÄôs plan because the federal government will expand by 2.8 percent annually, whereas ObamaâÄôs 10-year budget outlook expands government by 4.7 percent annually over the next decade. Both proposals expand the government at a rate larger than the expected rate of inflation of 2.1 percent.
As of today, there are two options. One party says stay the course and keep expanding the federal government at an unprecedented rate. Keep Medicare the way it is and donâÄôt reduce spending on any operations of the federal government.
People will be happy that their programs arenâÄôt affected immediately. But procrastinating on dealing with our financial mess could result in our nation being on the brink of bankruptcy.
If we continue what we are doing, there will be no Medicare, Social Security or any other federal programs by 2037 because there will be no money to fund them. We need to change what we are doing right now.
The other party is proposing minor cuts that simply reduce spending to 2008 levels and restructuring Medicare.
These programs, as well as the future of this country, can be protected with The Path to Prosperity, which will reduce the national debt to 10 percent of the GDP by 2050. It will ensure that while some very minor cuts are made, the long-term viability of government programs is protected.
It is easy to attack the Path to Prosperity, but minor spending rollbacks to get our debt under control and protect federal programs that we would like to keep is far from radical, despite what some may say.
Josh Villa welcomes comments at [email protected]