If Republicans gain a majority in today’s election, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is in line to take over the gavel of the House Budget Committee. Earlier this year, Republicans were loathe to associate themselves with Ryan’s Roadmap for America’s Future — a plan that purports to balance the budget by slashing entitlement spending — with House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) pointedly refusing to endorse it.
However, on Fox Business yesterday, Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL), who is slated to become chairman of the House Financial Services Committee should the GOP take the House, threw his endorsement to Ryan’s plan. Bachus made it clear, though, that he has no idea what the plan actually means, as he ludicrously asserted that it doesn’t entail any benefit cuts:
I endorse Paul Ryan’s budget proposal, which will slow the federal government to 19 percent of our GDP, which is really high by historic channels. And he doesn’t cut any benefits to do that. He gradually raises the retirement age, not for those who are approaching retirement now, and simply gets a handle on accountability. You don’t really have to cut.
Leaving aside the simple matter that raising the retirement age is a benefit cut, Bachus seems to have no grasp at all on what Ryan’s radical Roadmap for America’s Future would mean for the entitlement programs. First, Social Security:
The Ryan plan proposes large cuts in Social Security benefits — roughly 16 percent for the average new retiree in 2050 and 28 percent in 2080 from price indexing alone — and initially diverts most of these savings to help fund private accounts rather than to restore Social Security solvency. Because the plan would divert large sums from Social Security to private accounts, it would leave the program facing insolvency in about 30 years, just as under current law.
And then Medicare:
The Ryan plan would eliminate traditional Medicare, most of Medicaid, and all of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), converting these health programs largely to vouchers…By 2080, Medicare would be cut 76 percent below its projected size under current policies, according to CBO. In other words, by 2080, the vouchers that would replace Medicare would receive one-quarter of the resources that Medicare would otherwise use.
As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities summed up, the Roadmap’s cuts “would be so severe that CBO estimates they would shrink total federal expenditures (other than on interest payments) from roughly 19 percent of GDP in recent years to just 13.8 percent of GDP by 2080. Federal spending has not equaled such a low level of GDP since 1950, when Medicare and Medicaid did not yet exist, Social Security failed to cover many workers, and close to half of the elderly people in the United States lived below the poverty line.”
The whole point of Ryan’s radical plan is to attempt to balance the budget by obliterating entitlements. And even while their social safety net is torn out from under them, the Roadmap would result in 90 percent of Americans paying higher taxes.
During the same interview, Bachus also launched a preemptive strike, saying that President Obama may “force” the GOP to shut down the government.