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The moment we have been anticipating has finally arrived. House Budget Committee Chairman has released his budget for FY 2012, along with his blueprint for tax and entitlement reform over the next decade. This budget proposal, which would cut $5.8 trillion from the CBO baseline over the next decade, is a mature and well balanced plan emanating from a city full of fatuous demagoguery.
It is important to note that this is just the preliminary proposal of the very first step of the congressional budget process; the Concurrent Budget Resolution. There will be ample time to sort through all of the components of this plan and provide the appropriate changes as needed. Nonetheless, it is a laudable first step that has come to fruition through the assiduous work of Paul Ryan and his Republican colleagues on the Budget Committee. It is a fresh breath of moderation and seriousness amidst the extremism that is so endemic in Washington among the Democrats. Here is a cursory breakdown of some of the major provisions of the Ryan plan, categorized by the excellent, the good, and the need for improvement.
While this plan is a prudential first step to infusing the free market into an otherwise socialized sector of the economy, the changes will not take effect for another 10 years. Also, a more conservative approach would have called for the issuance of vouchers, thereby directly empowering the individual, as opposed to perpetuating the role of government through their payments to insurance companies. In addition, the plan calls for adjustable spending caps that can lead to means-testing based upon the needs of the individual. Those who contribute more into Medicare shouldn’t receive less because of their personal income status. The individual’s contribution to Medicare and Social Security is what sets apart those programs from welfare programs. As such, they should not be means tested. Nonetheless, Ryan’s Medicare plan is a decisive step in the right direction.
On the other hand, there are still over 70 other welfare programs that cost another trillion dollars, but are untouched in this proposal. Republicans should look to Jim Jordan’s Welfare Reform Act of 2011 to build upon Ryan’s reforms of the Food Stamp program. [Read more about Jordan’s plan here.]
Need for Improvement
Many good conservatives are so concerned about solvency that they are calling for a raise in the retirement age and means-testing of benefits. While those proposals might succeed in making SS more solvent, they are an anathema to the ideals of free market capitalism and individual liberty. It is inconceivable that a hard working 30 year-old should be forced to work until 70 (maybe longer) and then awarded his retirement at the whims of a means-tested regime, all the while having no property rights over his retirement security.
The objective of entitlement reform is not to make a Democrat-run program solvent. Our objective vis-à-vis entitlement reform should be focused on returning the wealth to the American worker and taxpayer by promoting more liberty and prosperity. It is fair to propose much needed innovative changes such as benefit cuts and retirement age adjustments for those who optionally enroll in such a program. However, there can be no discussion of raising the retirement age without offering young workers private accounts or an option to opt out.
Keep in mind that when we fund these agencies, we are not merely losing the billions or tens of billions of dollars in wasted expenditures. These superfluous agencies use that funding to impose onerous market-distorting regulations and mandates on job creation, income growth, energy productivity, and consumer purchasing power. Such a cost to our economy is incalculable.
The Democrats have worked indefatigably for a century to destroy the fabric of our free market, liberty seeking society. We will not restore our republic overnight. As such, Paul Ryan’s proposal provides us with the building blocks from which to bring about the restoration of our constitutional government. More importantly, it has spurred a much needed sagacious debate about the best way to fulfill those ideals-a debate that has been suppressed by the Democrat extremists in Washington.
The Democrats can no longer hide the fact that they have no desire to cut one red-cent from their sacrosanct $3.8 trillion annual plunder of the American worker and their $14.2 trillion foreclosure on the next generation. They will fight vociferously to keep every last poverty inducing, market-distorting, and price-hiking program. After all, the future dependency and impending poverty of the American worker is the mother’s milk of Democrats’ perennial power.
Republicans should stick to their guns and build upon Ryan’s innovations. A new poll shows that Americans align with the Tea Party against Congress on all major issues by a 48%-22% margin. There is nothing to fear, as the Tea Party agenda is good politics, and more importantly, good policy. Quite the contrary, it is the Democrats who should fear electoral reprisal. Their extremist policies have killed jobs; reduced income, raised the cost of food, energy, and vital needs; perpetuated poverty and corporate cronyism; depredated our energy productivity; and spawned a virtually immutable debt crisis.
Paul Ryan’s budget resolution is the starting point for our efforts to reverse all of these statist ills. The only question from here is how quickly we desire to return to a path of prosperity and individual freedom.
Cross-posted to Red Meat Conservative