One way to measure the immense failure of the tenure of Paul Ryan as Speaker of the House is how little he was able to accomplish with respect to his pet project of reforming Medicare.
Before running for Vice President with Mitt Romney Ryan was in charge of the budget for the House of Representatives and he was seen as the person who knew more about the federal budget than anyone. And he always said that Medicare was going to be a huge problem and something needed to be done about it.
So what Paul Ryan has done for Medicare as Speaker is worse than nothing: he has made Medicare’s fiscal situation much worse than it was before he became speaker. Not only has he failed to control the skyrocketing costs of the health insurance program but by passing unneeded tax cuts on the wealthy he has taken away much of Medicare’s future funding.
And new projections that just came out show that the separate trust fund established to fund Medicare’s hospital benefits only has enough money to last eight more years. While Republicans try to ignore the Medicare funding crisis caused by tax cuts, this new report has brought the issue to the forefront and is pointing out both the hypocrisy and the irresponsibility of the Republicans.
Ryan even admitted that the tax cuts were not needed and his long term goal was to raise the federal deficit to such a high level that it could no longer to pay for Medicare, Medicaid, and other “entitlements.”
In the meantime, the kleptocracy in Washington has let greed run wild. A person could argue that since Republicans took over control Washington is being run by greed and nothing else. Drug companies, health insurance companies, medical companies, doctors — they are all making record profits while the federal government is spending over $1.5 trillion per year on healthcare.
The greed would stop if single payer healthcare went into effect, but that’s the last thing the current vested interests want. Stock prices would plummet even though the federal budget could be balanced.
Republicans of course blame Democrats for the problem, saying that Ryan and Republicans in Congress are not responsible.
“It takes two houses of Congress and a president to want to do that,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), speaking about Medicare reform. “No matter who’s been in the House or who’s been speaker, we have not been able to get entitlement reform done.” The reason is that Democrats want to limit corporate profits and increase taxes to secure funding for Medicare, while Republicans want to let greed run abated while taxes are cut which will require them to take away health benefits from tens of millions of Americans.
Republicans spent the eight years of the Obama administration calling for major reforms and now they’ve gone completely silent. Their tax cut bill is adding $1.5 trillion to the deficit and they have been forced to admit that they’ve put Medicare on on “increasingly unstable financial ground.”
But many Republicans believe in a future (not supported by the facts) where economic growth will make up for the deficits caused by the tax cuts, and this will allow Medicare to be funded.
“Obviously, they’re not taking into consideration what we’re already seeing, which is additional growth,” said Sen. John Thune of South Dakota. “It’s going to be a lot easier to solve entitlement reform in a growing economy than in an economy that’s in recession.”
Democrats have in the past been against the GOP‘s Medicare reform plans because they involve cutting taxes and benefits while doing nothing to reign in the rampant greed (as well as fraud) that is bankrupting the government. Now Democrats are pointing out that Republicans have gotten rid of their fiscal concerns in order to accomplish their most important priority, tax cuts for the rich.
“When Republicans want to cut taxes but don’t want to contain health care spending, they are yanking Medicare three years closer to insolvency,” said Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the Finance Committee.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.
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