For all of the criticism that Paul Ryan is receiving from countless sources regarding his budget plan, it should be pointed out that he is the only one who has been willing to step up and put together a real plan that does not increase the size of government at the same time offering real solutions to entitlement reform and our debt crisis. By no means does this suggest Ryan’s plan is perfect, because I do think it has some challenges. But let’s give Congressman Ryan some credit. It takes tremendous courage and will power to do the job for which he was elected but even more so, to go above and beyond the call to service. That is something I do not see too many other members of Congress or our President doing. For that alone, I think Congressman Paul Ryan deserves tremendous credit and appreciation.
Here is what I think the plan does right. It cuts spending, reforms entitlement programs and refrains from tax hikes while also providing tax reform to encourage real growth for our economy. Ultimately, this will lead to a balanced budget. It deals with bureaucratic government processes, reforms policies and reduces the size of government by ten percent. Significant to the plan is the repeal of Obamacare!
Ryan also manages to reduce the drastic cuts to our military defense spending that the Obama Administration has proposed from $487 Billion to $214 Billion while avoiding tax increases proposed by the President. While the Ryan plan acknowledges that there is a need for cuts and better efficiencies in the Department of Defense – and hence the cuts it calls for – it protects our vital national security by ensuring we make smarter decisions in spending by using a reduced budget rather than putting us at risk under President Obama’s draconian approach.
As I have continually said throughout my campaign, there is plenty of low hanging fruit in the budget. This can be seen in unnecessary redundant agencies and poor purchasing decisions. I have continually pointed out that the military spends far too much on shipping compared to what private industry pays for the same type of service. That is an area where cutting spending forces the Department of Defense to make better decisions and negotiate better contracts for savings that does not affect the ability to protect our vital national security interests. These types of improvements and efficiencies can be achieved under the Ryan plans’ more realistic cuts to the budget.
For those of us in the North Country, it is vitally important that we protect Fort Drum and avoid the scenario that would likely take place under Bill Owens and President Obama’s proposed cuts. The Ryan plan would force the Department of Defense to make smart decisions but would be less of a strain and therefore far better for our local district interests.
However, I also have some areas of concerns with the Ryan plan. One of the valid and key criticisms of the plan is that it will disproportional affect the poor and middle class. The claim is that 62% of the cuts that the Ryan’s plan proposes impacts programs that serve the poor such as food stamps and Medicaid. While difficult decisions must be made to reign in our out-of-control debt, deficit and spending problem, we absolutely need to move away from a culture of dependency.
While we know that we have to reform Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, we must do so in a way that protects and honors the commitment that this country made to our seniors. Many have paid into the system their entire life expecting a meager return on that investment upon retirement. Our elected officials cannot renege on that promise. Nevertheless, this is an out-of-control problem that has grown exponentially as Congress is paralyzed to act out of a fear of dramatic political reprecussions.
My concern stems from two specific components regarding Ryan’s plan in this area.
First, is the fact that the plan only protects the program for people over the age of 55. Anyone at or over the age of 55 would not have enough time to revise and recover their financial plans with such a change.
Second, while giving Americans the ability to invest their own money sounds great, the reality is that most Americans are so strapped at the moment that if less money were withheld from their paychecks, many would use that increased income for paying the bills and simple survival.
While I wholeheartedly agree with the idea of a flatter, simpler tax, Ryan’s plan falls short of explaining which tax loopholes would be closed. To be fair and accurate, that is the responsibility of the House Ways and Means Committee but I would prefer to see a straight flat tax with no loopholes and ultimately, the elimination of the IRS.
While I think that the Ryan plan is a good step, I prefer the Heritage Foundation’s plan “Saving the American Dream.” It achieves the same basic goals that the Ryan plan does and balances the budget in 10 years but does so while maintaining federal revenues at 18.5% of GDP.
It also tackles the issue of entitlements in a far more reasonable manner that protects our seniors and those fast approaching retirement while making those changes gradually over time for those who are younger (born after 1983). Only the wealthiest nine percent (who likely are the ones who don’t need it) would see a reduction in their social security. It also offers a plan for Medicare solvency while protecting seniors against bankruptcy, which all too often results from a catastrophic illness. The Heritage plan also supports a flat tax with only a few basic deductions such as a mortgage interest and health care deductions. It would also reign in spending on our defense budget while protecting our vital national security interests. And yes, it does repeal Obamacare!
Finally, where Ryan’s plan has received so much criticism in the drastic cuts to programs primarily used by the poor, the Heritage plan is more reasonable and has long term plans that move people from dependency to a trajectory of independent prosperity.
Again, while I do have issues with Ryan’s plan and personally prefer the Heritage Foundation plan, Ryan’s plan is the best plan we have seen in Congress that addresses these critical issues. We cannot dispute the fact that we need to make tough choices and overall, this is a good plan that addresses the bulk of our financial woes. We must reign in our spending which will begin the process of solving the major financial burdens facing our nation. This is a definitive major step towards a financial solution as it forces us to accept the reality that we face a tremendous financial mess with no easy solutions.
The ultimate goal of this plan is to get us out of debt and balance our budget, support tax breaks that stimulate economic growth and lead us out of a culture of dependency and back to the intent of the Constitution where government had a limited and specific purpose. That is also the goal under the plan proposed by the Heritage Foundation.
Kudo’s to Congressman Paul Ryan for being willing to step up to the plate and offer a serious solution. Even if the plan isn’t perfect, it is better than the continual reckless insatiable spending dependency which the Obama Administration has followed.