There is no credible path to deficit reduction without a combination of spending cuts and revenue increases. This is the fundamental conclusion of every responsible group that has examined the issue, most prominently the Simpson-Bowles commission, and it is the fundamental failure of the budget blueprint released Tuesday by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).The biggest machete blow would fall on Medicaid,at a time when the number of Americans who get employer-provided health insurance is falling rapidly, from 70% in 2000 to just over 50% today.
Instead, and unfortunately, Mr. Ryan’s plan lunges in the opposite direction. He dangles the carrots of lower income and corporate tax rates. He says he would maintain tax revenue and in fact have it grow to 19 percent of the gross domestic product by 2025. Yet he fails to do the hard, and politically treacherous, work of specifying what deductions and credits he would eliminate in order to make all that happen.
Does Mr. Ryan propose to eliminate the mortgage interest deduction? The preferential tax treatment of employer-sponsored health insurance? The deduction for charitable donations?
Mr. Ryan says he’d leave those pesky details to the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, and no wonder: The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center said Mr. Ryan’s plan would reduce revenues by an eye-popping $4.6 trillion — and that’s on top of the $5.4 trillion cost of making the Bush tax cuts permanent. Moreover, no matter what deductions are curtailed, the benefit of the lower rates would flow overwhelmingly to the wealthiest Americans, while Mr. Ryan would take a machete to programs that help the least fortunate.
We simply cannot provide for our nation's health care, keep the promises we have made to people over 65, maintain a huge military, and keep taxes low. It cannot be done.