After a year of a legislative policy of “just say no,” at least one Republican has come forth with an actual plan to fix the nation’s deficit. Republican Party leadership in Congress, however, has made it clear in their responses that his is not a “republican party plan,” but just his own ideas. However, the president states publicly that he has taken notice the plan. We might be a bit puzzled about all that.
In bringing forth his plan, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin says he wants to be sure that the Republican Party is viewed as “the alternative party, not the opposition party.” That would, of course, be quite a change.
But let us look for a moment at the major features of Rep. Ryan’s proposed Republican plan. What are his new ideas?
For openers, Rep. Ryan proposes to decrease corporate taxes and taxes on the investor class to “spur economic growth.” He would shift Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries to private insurance companies, thus privatizing these two government programs. He would immediately raise the retirement age to 70, and reduce Social Security benefits. Further, he would privatize Social Security by taking the SS payroll taxes and allowing them to be invested in private market accounts. (Where have we heard those ideas before?)
In other words, Mr. Ryan proposes scrapping (privatizing) much of the great social legislation of the last century, starting with the Mr. Roosevelt’s Social Security program enacted during the Great Depression. Or, should we say “the last great depression?”
Sure enough there are some fiscal authorities who say that Mr. Ryan’s plan would actually reduce the deficit over the next ten or twenty years, as well we might expect such draconian measures would. Mr. Ryan quite appropriately notes that his proposed solutions highlight differences in philosophy between the two parties – Republicans and Democrats. He is right on that point.