Ryan’s ‘Path to Prosperity’ is neither serious nor courageous

Josh Villa was right in his April 11 column “Path to Prosperity is for protection;” it is indeed easy to attack Rep. Paul RyanâÄôs 2012 budget.

While numerous pundits have praised RyanâÄôs plan for its seriousness and even its courageousness, further inspection indicates that these assessments are wrong. Although the debate over RyanâÄôs budget cannot be reduced to the space of this article, we should analyze two of the major claims Villa makes in his column.

The first misleading idea is VillaâÄôs claim that the plan “reduces federal spending by about $6.2 trillion over 10 years.” Although Ryan himself no longer claims spending cuts of this magnitude, the number is not the primary issue with VillaâÄôs deceptive statement.

While the real impact of spending cuts is estimated at just more than $4.3 trillion over the next 10 years, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities recently reported that these cuts are offset by approximately $4.2 trillion in tax cuts that disproportionately benefit top earners, and therefore the plan reduces the deficit by a mere $155 billion over the next decade.

Despite the fact that large spending cuts entice Villa, he fails to observe the lost revenue from tax cuts and thus fails to present RyanâÄôs plan in a constructive manner.

Another area of particular significance that Villa attempts to explain is how the program approaches Medicare.

According to Villa, “The Path to Prosperity preserves Medicare âĦ in a way that doesnâÄôt lead this country to bankruptcy.” The validity of this statement hinges on an overly broad interpretation of the meaning of preservation. As the Congressional Budget Office reported last week, RyanâÄôs plan would increase total health care spending for a typical 65-year-old by close to 40 percent by 2022 and more than double the out-of-pocket spending on health care for these individuals.

Even as RyanâÄôs plan also raises the age of eligibility for Medicare from 65 to 67, it does nothing to ensure that 65- and 66-year-olds with low incomes are able to purchase affordable health insurance.

Villa wants us to accept RyanâÄôs plan for our “protection” based on the false pretense of its necessity. Contrary to how he presents our current situation, alternative and more encompassing ideas about how to trim the long-term deficit do exist.

Disproportionately cutting funding for programs such as Medicare and Medicaid without doing anything to quell long-term health care costs is unsustainable and unacceptable. When Villa and others tell us that RyanâÄôs plan is for our own good, we should know better.