A choice of two future’s: Pro-growth economic reform versuse Government control of the economy.
Wisconsin, a state that has been bitterly divided for the past two years, due in part to Governor Scott Walker’s budget reforms, is once again at the epicenter of American politics. Today, former Massachusetts governor and the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, announced that seven-term Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan is his choice for Vice President. It appears that Romney adhered to the clarion call made by countless conservative pundits and strategists: to go bold with his Vice Presidential selection.
Mitt Romney, by selecting Paul Ryan, has shifted the narrative of this election from vitriol and negativity to substance. For the next three months Americans can expect a real discussion to take place about the seminal issues facing our nation’s future: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Representative Ryan, in his seminal magnum opus, The Path to Prosperity: A Blueprint for America’s Future, outlines bold solutions for solving America’s economic woes, balancing the budget, fostering growth and reforming our dilapidated entitlement system. The aforementioned tome advocates for the transformation of Medicare from a government-run entity to one that is controlled by citizens.
The innumerable attacks leveled against Representative Ryan’s budget proposal by liberals are devoid of facts and intellectual fodder. Contrary to their suppositions, the Ryan plan preserves Medicare for those currently sixty-five years of age and older. Under Representative Ryan’s proposal, Medicare is transformed from a government-run to a consumer-driven program. This is achieved by transforming Medicare into a premium-support program. A premium- support program affords citizens with the opportunity to apply the government’s Medicare contribution towards a health insurance plan of their choosing. The only viable solution for making Medicare solvent and providing health care coverage to senior citizens is Paul Ryan’s premium-support program. Reforming our dilapidated and insolvent government-run Medicare system with one that provides individual ownership while simultaneously bolstering the private-sector, should be a foremost priority of lawmakers of all persuasions.
In addition to reforming Medicare, Representative Ryan’s budget proposal shifts control of Medicaid from the federal government to individual states. Akin to the Founders, Representative Ryan is vociferous supporter of Federalism and state’s rights. No other budget proposal has done more to ensure the solvency of Medicaid than The Path to Prosperity: A Blueprint for America’s Future. Representative Paul Ryan’s budget proposal drastically alters Medicaid by shifting control from the federal government to individual state governors. This is done through state block grants. In describing his block grant proposal, Representative Paul Ryan writes, “The Path to Prosperity secures Medicaid benefits by converting the federal share of Medicaid spending into a block grant tailed to meet each state’s needs, indexed for inflation and population growth. This reform ends the misguided one-size-fits-all approach that has tied the hands of so many state governments. States will no longer be shackled by federally determined program requirements and enrollment criteria.” As the reader can discern, Medicaid, under Ryan’s budget proposal, is transformed from a one-size-fits-all government program to one that is tailored to meet the individual needs of each state.
Under the current system, state governments and the federal government share the cost of providing medical services to low-income and downtrodden Americans. Representative Ryan’s block grant proposal will eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse, while simultaneously affording governors with the ability to concoct plans that best suit the needs of their constituents. At the time of this writing, Medicaid is the largest line-item in most states’ budgets—surpassing even education—and accounting for nearly twenty-two percent of total state spending in fiscal year 2010. By implementing Representative Paul Ryan’s block grant proposal, governors will be able to alleviate the burden posed by Medicaid and offer citizens a more cost-effective program. The current one-size-fits all system is demonstrably bad for states and hamstrings their ability to provide low-income citizens with the best, and most cost-effective health insurance premiums.
In addition to adversely affecting individual states, the current one-size-fits-all program is bankrupting the federal government. In 1966, the year Medicaid was inaugurated, its total costs were $400 million annually. Today, forty-four years later, the total cost of administering Medicaid has skyrocketed to $378.6 billion. What is more, by 2019, the cost is expected to climb to a whopping $819 billion. At the time of this writing, the federal government pays fifty-seven cents of every dollar spent on Medicaid. In order to prevent Medicaid from bankrupting individual states and posing a calamitous threat to America’s fiscal future, it is imperative that Paul Ryan’s state block grant proposal is enacted. If enacted, the program would save $750 billion over the next decade and provide states with the ability to balance their budgets, and spend money on education and infrastructure repairs.
America is at a cross roads and needs to elect leaders who are able to discern the myriad fiscal challenges facing this country. By 2040, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will consume one hundred percent of federal expenditures. The unfunded liabilities of these three programs will $82 trillion over the next seventy-five years. With unfunded liabilities as astronomically high as these, it is impossible for the United States government to function. As noted, by 2040 every dollar brought in by the federal government will go towards paying off the benefits of these three decrepit programs. As a result, the federal government will be unable to fund its military, schools, roads, or the motley assortment of other programs that require federal funding.
Entitlement spending, for the first time in American history, will be the focal point of a presidential election campaign. While liberals will continue to demagogue and work assiduously to convince voters that The Path to Prosperity dismantles Medicare and leaves millions of senior citizens “in the cold,” conservatives must develop common-sense, pro-growth solutions for solving our nation’s economic woes. The 2012 presidential election offers a clear choice between a pro-growth, substance based agenda, and one that is fixated on negative attacks, denigrating entrepreneurs, and replacing the free-market system with one that exponentially increases government authority, regulation and oversight. Articulating the myriad advantages of freedom, republicanism, capitalism and the free-market system must be the foremost priority of conservatives in the months ahead. If we intend to restore American to a sound fiscal footing, reform our outmoded entitlement programs and provide a better quality of life for future generations, it is imperative that conservatives outline bold solutions for overcoming the economic malaise that has been ubiquitous in America for the past four years. Now is the time to reform our entitlement system, usher in unprecedented economic growth and ensure that America remains the brightest beacon of freedom the world has ever known.