U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan wants to spend 2018 doing something Republicans have promised for thirty years, yet he is facing a steep uphill climb even within his own party.
The Speaker wants serious entitlement reform, namely reform of the big three of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, something that must be done if we are going to avert an eventual fiscal disaster in this country. During the Obama Presidency, Republicans in the House and Senate fought against trillion dollar deficits, which they rightly called fiscally irresponsible.
Many of the same Republicans who were outraged while Obama was president are now balking at Speaker Ryan’s plans to reform entitlement programs to prevent them from becoming fiscally insolvent.
It is not a question of if the big three entitlements will go bankrupt; they are bankrupt already, and are dependent on continued federal spending to support them since their trust funds are depleted. These three entitlement programs, alone, make-up 57% of all federal spending, and are on-track to account for more than 80% of the current federal budget within the next decade.
These numbers are stark, and they underscore the urgency with which Congress needs to tackle the so-called “third rail” of American politics to secure the future for all Americans. For this reason, it is more than disconcerting to hear the GOP Majority Leader in the Senate all but say that entitlement reform is dead on arrival in his chamber.
Without entitlement reform, America will become Greece within most of our lifetimes. We are accumulating debt at a staggering pace, even under a Republican government that is seeking to cut spending from other departments and programs. This is because non-discretionary entitlement spending continues to grow exponentially, and will, ultimately, eclipse the entire federal budget and push our nation into a long-term fiscal crisis. It won’t be Republicans that kill entitlement programs; it will be mathematics. Democrats who claim that entitlement spending can continue without reform are either knowingly lying for political purposes, or they are fiscal idiots who cannot read a financial statement.
Speaker Ryan’s call for entitlement reform is the logical next step toward restoring our nation’s financial strength following the Tax Reform and Job Creation Act of 2017. As I wrote earlier this year, Republicans cannot repeat mistakes of the past and cut taxes without cutting spending at the same time. Economic growth, alone, is not enough to erase the massive debts that saddle our nation.
If we want to reduce the size and scope of government, free-up our economy, and return to balanced budgets, entitlement reform is an absolute necessity. Entitlement reform is also the only way to ensure that programs on which people depend can be preserved for future generations.
Despite what Democrats say, entitlement reform is not an evil scheme to throw grandma off a cliff. In fact, smart entitlement reform can keep grandma and the nation from going over the fiscal cliff from which there is no return.
By providing a voucher system for Medicare and Medicaid patients to buy privately offered insurance plans, instead of having government pay healthcare providers directly, Congress can cut the out-of-control spending growth related to these programs, while tapping the private sector to create a solution to prevent cutting benefits.
This same sort of public-private partnership would also work for Social Security, and will have the bonus effect of preventing Americans from continuing to pay into a federal Ponzi scheme from which they will never benefit.
Entitlement reform is critical to the future of our country, and I hope that Republicans in the House and Senate put the good of their country before their own political interests and support Speaker Ryan’s efforts at an overhaul. Anything short of true entitlement reform will ensure that millions of Americans lose access to these programs, and that the nation will experience a financial crisis within the next decade. The time to act has long since come and gone, and congressional Republicans need to seize this moment to secure the future.