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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Ryan Budget places unfair burden on poor

Last Friday the House of Representatives voted to pass Republican Rep. Paul Ryan’s “”Path to Prosperity”” budget proposal. This proposal seeks to solve the country’s massive debt problem, ultimately reducing the deficit by a projected $4.4 trillion in the next 10 years. Something must be done about our rising debt, but this plan is based on fantasy and will do little more than place an unfair burden on the poor and middle class.

One of the ways Rep. Ryan hopes to reduce federal spending is by reforming programs like Medicare and Medicaid, which provide health care to the elderly and poor, respectively. Under his plan, Medicare would no longer pay seniors’ medical bills directly, but would instead provide vouchers for individuals to purchase private health insurance. In addition, Medicaid would be pushed onto the states, with the federal government giving grants to the states and eliminating mandates as to how that money would be spent.

While Medicare and Medicaid are not perfect, this plan is not the answer. One of the primary factors of increased spending is the rising cost of health care, yet the Ryan proposal does nothing to address this.

If Medicare is replaced with a voucher system and the cost of health care continues to rise, health insurance would eventually cost more than what the voucher would provide. Rep. Ryan’s plan calls for the voucher’s worth to be adjusted every year for inflation, but recently the cost of health insurance has been rising at a higher rate than inflation.

The Medicaid idea is even worse. Does anyone honestly think that state legislators, faced with their own budget problems, would use all of that federal money for Medicaid? No, most states, especially Arizona, would cut their Medicaid budgets, and this country’s least fortunate would be without health care.  

However, the worst part about the Ryan plan is that, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, most of the spending cuts would not go to reducing the deficit, but would instead go to pay for further tax cuts. Under the proposal, the tax rates for the wealthiest individuals and corporations would be reduced by 10 percent. Rep. Ryan mentions that this will be accompanied by the closure of some tax loopholes, but it’s unclear as to whether or not this would be enough to offset the loss of revenue from the tax cuts.

Once again, the Republicans are relying on the debunked myth that cutting taxes actually increases revenues. They seem to forget that the Bush tax cuts helped create this debt crisis and that history has proven this theory to be incorrect.  

Does spending need to be cut? Yes, but this is not the way to go about it. All options must be on the table, including tax increases. Reducing the size of government to what it was in the 1920s is not the only option and it hurts the people who need the most help. Does something need to be done about Medicare and Medicaid? Yes, these programs have become way too expensive, but that doesn’t mean they should be privatized or delegated to the states. It means actually doing something to solve the current health care crisis and bringing health care costs down.  

The fact is that our country has a debt problem, but if this plan is passed the country’s least fortunate will be affected the most. Kudos to Rep. Ryan for actually presenting a plan that seriously discusses reducing the deficit, but this is certainly not the answer.

 

— Andrew Shepherd is a political science senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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