Harry Truman was full of good quotes. Two of my favorite: “If you want a friend in Washington get a dog” and “I never give them hell. I just tell the truth and they think it’s hell.” Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) can likely sympathize with Truman – because he’s givin’ Democrats hell and it isn’t making him many friends.
He’s recently charted a course, determined to change the image of the GOP from “an opposition party to being the alternative party.” As he recently told the New York Times,
“[T]he problem in the minority [is that] you sometimes revert into a posture where ‘I don’t have to do anything controversial, I just can be against that and win by default.’ I’m not interested in winning by default.”
Sometimes the truth is tough to swallow. Unlike many in Washington, Rep. Ryan backs up his words with action. His sweeping Roadmap for America’s Future is a comprehensive reform package that stands in sharp contrast to the crushing budget President Obama unveiled last week. Although, as he never forgets to remind us, he didn’t get us completely into this mess, his budget didn’t exactly provide a plan to get out of it.
The problem is deep and multi-faceted, a combination of bloated entitlements, an aging population, and an ever-growing bureaucracy. There’s the iceberg and we’re headed right for it. Obama’s budget does nothing to turn the steering wheel, instead choosing to slam on the accelerator. Under the president’s plan spending will top $4 trillion in the upcoming year, the nation’s debt will double in five years, and triple in ten. In just the 10th year of Obama’s budget the federal government will be spending nearly $1 trillion a year on interest alone. In other words…we’re sunk.
Ryan’s plan is comprehensive, tackling everything from health care reform, the tax code, Medicare, and Social Security. I don’t dare to it injustice by attempting to explain it in its entirety, but here are some key points of the Roadmap:
- Freeze all discretionary spending except national defense and veteran’s health care for five years
- Simplify the income tax code by creating a two-tiered flat tax – 10% for incomes up to $100,000 and 25% on higher incomes
- Replace corporate income taxes, currently the world’s second highest, with a corporate consumption tax of 8.5% – about half the tax burden other nations place on average
- Overhaul Medicare to give seniors premium support through vouchers for private insurance in order to draw more people into the market and eliminate hidden subsidies
- Index the retirement age for Social Security to today’s lengthened life-expectancy
- Make the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 permanent
After implementing these changes you are left with a streamlined federal government, a solution to the economic crisis, and all without the burden of huge tax increases. But the Roadmap for America’s Future is greater than the sum of its parts. It represents a wholesale change in philosophy for a government growing more unwieldy by the day. As captured by the Washington Post’s Michael Gerson,
“[I]t represents an alternative political philosophy. . . For decades, culminating in the Obama health reform proposal, Democrats have attempted to build a political constituency for the welfare state by expanding its provisions to larger and larger portions of the middle class. Ryan proposes a federal system that focuses on helping the poor, while encouraging the middle class to take more personal responsibility in a dynamic economy. It is the appeal of security vs. the appeal of independence and enterprise.
The results of this alternative philosophy are astounding. The CBO, who analyzed the Roadmap, said
“The lower budget deficits under your proposal would result in much less federal debt than under the alternative fiscal scenario and thereby a much more favorable macro-economic outlook. . . The Roadmap would put the federal budget on a sustainable path, generating an annual budget surplus of about 5 percent of GDP by 2080.”
Words may not do justice. To understand the plan’s real impact, simply take a glimpse into the future comparing the proposed Democratic budgets and the Republican alternative:
This is our generation’s future we’re talking about. This is our chance to actually receive the benefits of programs such as Medicare and Social Security that we are paying in to. This is the opportunity to avert a fiscal course in which we face tax increases simply so that our government can make interest payments on its debt. Moreover, we will play an important role in this fight because it is shaping up to be a generational struggle. Seniors, even conservative seniors, will view this as a threat to Medicare and Social Security. But those programs, which are already facing a $500 billion cut in the Democratic health bill, are insolvent as they currently stand. We have no hope of seeing benefits if the status quo remains. So we must make our voices heard on the issue. After all, the plan is entitled Roadmap for America’s Future, and we, College Republicans, are America’s future.
- Brandon Greife, Political Director of the College Republican National Committee