The PJ Tatler

Paul Ryan's Medicare Overhaul Will Get Another Chance in Next Congress

Elections have consequences.

The next Republican budget will look a lot like those written by exiting House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan, eliminating deficits in 10 years and calling again for a massive revamp of the federal Medicare program, Ryan’s replacement said on Friday.

Representative Tom Price, who takes the reins of the U.S. House budget panel in January, told reporters he will “build on” Ryan’s proposals by devising ways to put more federal benefits programs under the control of states.

Ryan will take over as chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee. Over the past four years, he used his budgets to articulate a vision for Republican priorities that elevated him to the national political stage, even though none were passed by the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Ryan’s budget last year sought deep cuts to social safety net programs in order to achieve balance by the mid 2020s.

Price, a physician with four years on the Budget Committee, said a Republican-controlled Congress can now advance policies pioneered by Ryan, including his controversial Medicare plans.

Those plans would scale back the popular social insurance program for the elderly and disabled by limiting beneficiaries to a set amount of money every year to buy private healthcare insurance.

Ryan has long been one of the few adults in the room when it comes to the great taxpayer drain that is Medicare. The program has never remotely been close to its long-term cost predictions, always greatly exceeding them. As soon as any Republican attempts a rational discussion about reining it in, Democrats begin screeching incoherently and the press does its part by labeling the proposals “controversial”. In modern political media parlance, “controversial” means “Republican policy.”

Fans of the federalization of everything are terrified whenever there is talk of shifting responsibility back to the states. Each federal dollar that flows to a state is a little hook that gives state-level lawmakers from any party cover for selling out their constituents in the name of “free money.”

Perhaps the Republicans should begin by explaining to the electorate what “free” actually means.