Paul Ryan: The rich man’s VP pick • Celia Murray
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has tapped Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his vice presidential running mate. A seven-term Congressman, Ryan is the chairman of the House Budget Committee, is a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee, and is the Republican Party's leader on fiscal and budgetary issues.
Ryan is the primary author of the conservative tax and spending blueprints that the Republican House majority approved over vociferous Democratic opposition in 2011 and again in 2012. Misleadingly titled “A Path to Prosperity,” the plan would repeal President Obama’s health care law and, according to Ryan, cut billions in federal spending, much of it in programs that benefit the poor, including food stamps and Medicaid.
The 2011 version of the Ryan plan would bring an end to Medicare as we know it. Ryan contends that ending Medicare, which provides health care to Americans over the age of 65 and is arguably the most successful and popular social program in the country, is essential in tackling the soaring federal debt. In his 2012 plan, Ryan tweaked his Medicare provisions in the face of public outrage.
Ryan envisions transforming Medicare into a program in which future seniors would receive government checks that they would use to purchase health insurance. Under the current program, the government directly pays doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers. Non-partisan estimates reveal that seniors would actually pay approximately $6,000 per year for insurance coverage comparable to that provided by Medicare – assuming that such coverage is even available, and there’s no guarantee that the vouchers would keep up with rising medical costs. Thus, under Ryan’s vision, seniors may well fall farther and farther behind every year.
Ryan contends his plan is necessary to address the federal deficit. However, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the Ryan plan would actually worsen the government debt problems. Analysis by the Tax Policy Center finds the same. Under the Ryan budget those making $1 million or more would enjoy an average tax cut of $265,000. This is because the Ryan budget cuts tax rates at the top and eliminates taxes on capital gains, both of which disproportionately benefit the wealthy. Some Republican members of Congress insist, with a straight face, that these tax cuts will reduce unemployment. However, economic data collected over several decades proves this isn’t true. Common sense tells us the same thing – if lower taxes were the key, we’d have a booming economy right now.
Much has been made of Mr. Romney’s business experience, and so, at first glance, the 42-year-old Ryan, who has very limited private sector experience, might seem an unlikely pick for VP. Perhaps Ryan’s appeal to Romney lies in the tax consequences of the plan.
Celia Murray is a member of the Morgan CountyDemocratic Committee.