House GOP Budget chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin has introduced a budget bill that would reduce the deficit by $4.4 trillion over ten years by repealing Obamacare, reforming entitlements like Medicare and Medicaid and making cuts to defense that were previously approved by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. It also imposes hard spending caps on domestic spending.
While this Bill includes the potent medicine that must be taken to cure the financial woes that could derail the American economic ship, it also contains a poison pill that could take down the entire Bill as well as the hopes of the GOP for an alternative fiscal agenda to the one being proposed by the Democrats. In the Ryan bill is a dramatic reform proposal that would eliminate Medicare as we know it, to be replaced with a voucher system for the elderly. My belief is that Ryan and the Republicans have erred significantly by proposing this voucher system, and need to replace it with a more traditional cost savings approach to Medicare–such as pushing up the age elgibility threshold for the benefit and increasing the payments made into the system. The insensitivity of the GOP in its approach to this matter is quite alarming, especially in view of the wave of pushback received by Obamacare for slashing Medicare by $ 500 billion.
Before this Medicare fiasco the GOP appeared headed for certain political gains in the 2012 elections. That’s why it is of extreme importance for the GOP to immediately remove this proposal from the table, and replace it with a kinder and gentler alternative which is acceptable to seniors. Otherwise the Democrats will ride this Medicare proposal all the way to political gains in 2012.