Ryan-Romney Budget Proposals Would End Medicare as We Know It & Cut or Eliminate Programs for Poor, Elderly & Vulnerable

Representative Paul Ryan - Mitt Romney's Pick for Vice President - Introducing his Controversial Ryan Budget PlanBy selecting Paul Ryan as his running mate, former Governor and Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney has taken action that backs up and gives teeth to his previous endorsements of the Ryan Budget Plan and his promise to sign it into law if he were elected President.

Therefore, it behooves seniors and their family caregivers to pay attention to what the Ryan Budget Plan actually provides, and how it would affect Medicare, Medicaid, and other health care and safety net programs of concern to them, if Romney and Ryan were to be elected and the Ryan Budget Plan were to become law, as they have proposed.

Romney has Endorsed the Ryan Budget Plan and Promised to Implement Virtually Identical Proposals

As observed by Conservatives Stephen Hayes and William Kristol on August 9 in the Weekly Standard, a Conservative publication, “Romney has praised Ryan’s budget without qualification. Furthermore, Romney’s Medicare reform proposal is almost identical to the Ryan-Wyden plan, the latest version of Medicare reform from Ryan.”

It should be pointed out, however, that although the Conservative writers Hayes and Kristol refer to the “Ryan-Wyden plan,” a bi-partisan proposal previously made by Democratic Senator Ron Wyden along with Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, and although the Romney campaign frequently refers to the Ryan Budget as the “Ryan-Wyden plan,” in fact Senator Wyden has disavowed the Ryan Budget Plan, saying it does not reflect the ideas and terms that were in the earlier bi-partisan proposal he worked on with Congressman Ryan.

Senator Wyden stated to Ezra Klein in the Washington Post:

“My view is that the policies that were adopted by the Republican House majority and the Romney campaign do not preserve the Medicare guarantee. And that’s what the [Wyden/Ryan] white paper was all about. . . . The second difference is that the Romney approach completely pulls the rug out from under the poorest and most vulnerable seniors. . . . That’s why I went to the floor when we were debating the Ryan budget in the Senate and spoke specifically against the Medicare portion and voted against it. And there’s no evidence that Gov. Romney will see the world any differently.”

Gov. Romney has, in fact, endorsed and specifically embraced the Paul Ryan Budget Plan on at least five occasions, as reported by ThinkProgress.org, quoting Governor Romney’s own words. For example, as quoted by Think Progress, at a campaign event in Chicago in March, Gov. Romney said:

“I’m very supportive of the Ryan budget plan. It’s a bold and exciting effort on his part and on the part of the Republicans and it’s very much consistent with what I put out earlier.. . . this budget deals with entitlement reform, tax policy, which as you know is very similar to the one that I put out and efforts to reign in excessive spending. I applaud it. It’s an excellent piece of work and very much needed.”

“I think it’d be marvelous if the Senate were to pick up Paul Ryan’s budget and to adopt it and pass it along to the president,” Romney told Wisconsin voters in a telephone town hall meeting at the end of March.

On August 12, on CNN, top Romney Advisor Ed Gillespie repeated Governor Romney’s earlier pledge made on the campaign trail to sign the Ryan Budget into law if it came to his desk as President. Mr. Gillespie told Candy Crowley, “Well, as Governor Romney has made clear, if the Romney, sorry, if the Ryan budget had come to his desk as a budget, he would have signed it, of course, and one of the reasons that he chose Congressman Ryan is his willingness to put forward innovative solutions in the budget.”

And, on the same CNN program, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, said, “First of all, he [Mitt Romney] did embrace the Ryan budget. He embraced it.”

Therefore, the proposals in Paul Ryan’s Budget will be referred to in this article as the “Ryan-Romney” or “Romney-Ryan” Budget proposals.

Ryan’s Proposals – Starting with His “Roadmap for America’s Future” – Would Convert Medicare to a Voucher Program

Representative Ryan issued his first Budget proposal, called a “Roadmap for America’s Future” in 2008 and slightly revised it in 2010. This plan called for the elimination of Medicare as we know it for all individuals now 55 years old or younger, and replacement of it with a voucher system in which each senior would be required to buy their own health insurance from a private insurance company on the private insurance market.

Individuals of Medicare-eligible age (which would be raised to 67 years old and eventually to 69.5 years old) could receive a right to designate a private insurance company to receive a flat annual payment amount (commonly termed a “voucher”) to be applied toward purchase of private health insurance. The senior would be required to find and purchase the insurance from such a private insurance company on his or her own.

The amount of the voucher would be capped, and if private insurance turned out not to be available to the senior in the private market, or not available at a premium covered by the amount of the voucher plus whatever excess the senior could afford, then under the Ryan Roadmap, the senior would be out of luck and could be without medical coverage. The voucher would only be paid to a private insurance company to pay for an actual policy purchased by the senior, not to the senior himself or herself. Under the Ryan plan, there would be no guaranteed medical insurance coverage for seniors as under Medicare.

For further detail on Paul Ryan’s 2010 “Roadmap for America’s Future,” see our earlier report on:
In Debate 3 GOP Presidential Candidates Say They Would End Medicare / Medicaid or Shift It to States or Vouchers.

In 2011, Rep. Ryan slightly revised his “Roadmap,” and reissued it under the name, “The Path to Prosperity; A Blueprint for American Renewal.” This is the form of Budget which has passed the Republican-controlled House twice in slightly different versions, and which, as quoted above, Governor Romney has indicated he would sign into law if he were elected President.

How Would the Current Ryan-Romney Budget Proposals Affect Medicare & Health Care?

1. The Ryan-Romney Plan Would Replace Medicare as We Know it with a Voucher System.

As summarized by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities,

“The budget resolution developed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) would make significant changes to Medicare. It would replace Medicare’s current guarantee of coverage with a premium-support voucher, raise the age of eligibility from 65 to 67, and reopen the “doughnut hole” in Medicare’s coverage of prescription drugs. Together, these changes would shift substantial costs to Medicare beneficiaries and (with the simultaneous repeal of health reform) leave many 65- and 66-year olds without any health coverage at all. The plan also would likely lead to the gradual demise of traditional Medicare by making its pool of beneficiaries smaller, older, and sicker — and increasingly costly to cover.”

The Ryan Budget plan (“Path to Prosperity“) (page 52) states:

“For those workers currently under the age of 55, beginning in 2023, those seniors would be given a choice of private plans competing alongside the traditional fee-­‐for-­‐service option on a newly created Medicare Exchange. Medicare would provide a premium-­‐support payment [commonly known as a voucher] either to pay for or offset the premium of the plan chosen by the senior. . . .
The second-­‐least expensive approved plan or fee-­‐for-­‐service Medicare, whichever is least expensive, would establish the benchmark that determines the premium-­‐support amount for the plan chosen by the senior. If a senior chose a costlier plan than the benchmark plan, he or she would be responsible for paying the difference between the premium subsidy and the monthly premium. Conversely, if that senior chose a plan that cost less than the benchmark, he or she would be given a rebate for the difference. Payments to plans would be risk-­‐adjusted and geographically rated.”

In short, as summarized by the Los Angeles Times, this means that “Ryan would shift Medicare from a system in which everyone gets the same set of benefits, paid for by tax funds, to one in which the government would give each senior citizen a fixed amount of money.”

A report by the Associated Press, as featured on Kaiser Health News, said, “The idea behind Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan is to slow growing costs and keep the program more affordable for the long haul. But it’s all in the details. The Republican-backed shift to private insurance plans could saddle future retirees with thousands of dollars a year in additional bills.”

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities prepared a detailed analysis of what the latest Ryan-Romney Budget plan would mean for seniors, for our health care, and for our economy. Here is their summary of what the fine print and economic consequences of this Ryan-Romney plan would mean for you:

  • Geographic Inequality. “The value of the premium-support payment would initially equal the cost of the second-lowest-cost private health insurance plan in an area or traditional Medicare, whichever is less. As a result, the proposal’s impact on individual beneficiaries would differ significantly depending on whether traditional Medicare or private plans provided less costly coverage in their particular area of the country.”
  • Substantial Costs of Medical Care Would be Shifted Onto Seniors. “The Ryan budget would limit the growth rate of Medicare spending for new beneficiaries from year to year, starting in 2023, to the growth rate of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita plus one-half percentage point — an amount that will likely fall short of the actual growth of health care costs. . . . As a result, the vouchers would purchase less coverage with each passing year, pushing more costs on to beneficiaries. Over time, seniors would have to pay more to keep the health plans and the doctors they like, or they would get fewer benefits”. . . .

    “The Ryan budget would significantly raise the out-of-pocket health costs for Medicare beneficiaries with modest incomes, even as it proposes huge new tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans”. . . .

    “Chairman Ryan’s premium-support proposal would likely impose particularly heavy burdens on low-income beneficiaries in poor health. . . . This year, Ryan says that “lower-income seniors would receive additional assistance to help cover out-of-pocket costs” but provides no details. Moreover, in the specifications he provided to CBO [the Congressional Budget Office] for analyzing the long-term budgetary impact of his plan, Ryan made no dollar allowance to cover the cost of any “additional assistance.”

  • The Ryan-Romney Plan Will Lead to the Demise and End of Traditional Medicare. “Chairman Ryan claims that his proposal ‘ensur[es] that traditional Medicare remains an option.’ Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Under premium support, traditional Medicare would tend to attract a less healthy pool of enrollees, while private plans would attract healthier enrollees (as occurs today with Medicare and private Medicare Advantage plans). Although the proposal calls for “risk adjusting” payments to health plans — that is, adjusting them to reflect the average health status of their enrollees — the risk adjustment process is highly imperfect and captures only part of the differences in costs across plans that stem from differences in the health of enrollees.”

    “Inadequate risk adjustment would mean that traditional Medicare would be only partially compensated for its higher-cost enrollees, which would force Medicare to raise beneficiary premiums to make up the difference. The higher premiums would lead more of Medicare’s healthier enrollees to abandon it for private plans, very possibly setting off a spiral of rising premium costs and falling enrollment for traditional Medicare. Over time, traditional Medicare would become less financially viable and could unravel — not because it was less efficient than the private plans, but because it was competing on an unlevel playing field in which private plans captured the healthier beneficiaries and incurred lower costs as a result. Ryan also would allow private plans to tailor their benefit packages to attract healthier beneficiaries and deter sicker ones, which only makes this outcome more likely.”

  • Contrary to Ryan’s Assertions, the Ryan-Romney Plan Will Affect people now age 55 and older. “Chairman Ryan says that his proposal would not affect people age 55 and older, but this claim would likely turn out untrue. As fewer new beneficiaries enrolled in traditional Medicare when they reached the eligibility age, the population in traditional Medicare would gradually get older, sicker, fewer in number, and much more expensive per person to cover. Moreover, as the size of the Medicare population shrank, administrative costs would rise relative to benefit payments, traditional Medicare’s power to demand lower payment rates from providers would erode, and providers would have less incentive to participate in the program. As a result, people now age 55 and older might well face higher premiums and cost sharing for traditional Medicare, a more limited choice of providers, or both.”
  • By Raising the Age of Eligibility for Medicare from 65 to 67, the Ryan-Romney Plan Will Create a Coverage-Gap for 65 and 66 Year-Olds and May Lead to Higher Health Care Costs Across the Economy. “Because the Ryan-Romney plan would raise Medicare eligibility age to 67 and also repeal the Affordable Care Act reforms and benefits, 65- and 66-year olds would have neither Medicare nor access to health insurance exchanges in which they could buy coverage at an affordable price and receive subsidies to help them secure coverage if their incomes are low. This change would drive 65- and 66-year olds who don’t have employer-sponsored coverage into a poorly regulated individual insurance market that charges older individuals extremely high premiums. People of limited means would be affected most harshly because they would not be able to afford private coverage. In addition, 65- and 66-year olds with a pre-existing medical condition often would not be able to purchase coverage at any price. As a result, many 65- and 66-year olds would find themselves without health insurance coverage.”

    “In addition, raising Medicare’s eligibility age would not only fail to constrain health care costs across the economy; it would raise them. Medicare provides health coverage more cheaply than private health insurance plans because it has lower administrative costs and pays less to providers. Raising the Medicare age would shift costs to most of the 65- and 66-year olds who would lose Medicare coverage, to remaining Medicare beneficiaries, to employers that provide coverage for their retirees, and to states. These cost increases would, in total, more than offset the savings to the federal government. Moreover, by further shrinking Medicare’s share of the health insurance market, raising Medicare’s eligibility age would reduce its market power and weaken its ability to serve as a leader in controlling health care costs in the future.”

  • The Ryan-Romney Plan Would Repeal the Improvements in Medicare Benefits Implemented by the President’s Affordable Care Act. “The Ryan budget would repeal health reform’s provisions that improve Medicare benefits, including closure of the Medicare prescription drug doughnut hole and coverage of preventive services without cost sharing. These repeals would adversely affect current Medicare beneficiaries as well as those not yet eligible.” (See our further discussion below about the consequences of the Romney-Ryan proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act.)

For more detail on how the Romney-Ryan plan would end Medicare as we know it, see the full report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

2. The Ryan-Romney Plan Would Drastically Cut Medicaid and Shift it to the States.

The Ryan-Romney Budget plan (page 42) calls for “convert[ing] the federal share of Medicaid spending into a block grant indexed for inflation and population growth,” a program in which federal dollars for Medicaid would be drastically slashed but states would be free to spend the fewer federal dollars granted to them as they wished — without the federal regulations that currently accompany a state’s acceptance of federal Medicaid dollars in order to protect the poor and vulnerable populations.

In fact, the Ryan-Romney plan specifically calls for slashing federal Medicaid spending to help the poor and disabled populations by “$810 billion over ten years.”

It should be noted that, as stated by LongTermCare.org, “Medicaid [as we presently know it] pays for a majority of our nation’s nursing home care costs. Unlike Medicare, Medicaid will pay for both skilled and custodial care. Medicaid pays for physician-approved hospital stays, medical care, prescription drugs, and skilled nursing home care. (There are exceptions in certain states).”

The severe budgetary constraints that States currently face obviously makes it unlikely that they would be able to step up to the plate to fill in the huge federal funding gap for Medicaid that the Ryan-Romney plan would create.

And, it may be that some states, for ideological reasons, would eliminate Medicaid entirely. After all, in their lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act, 26 Republican-led states already objected to expansion of Medicaid coverage for low-income individuals, even when 100% of the initial funding (and no less than 90% of all funding) is to be provided by the federal government.

As reported by CBS News, some experts have estimated that the proposed Ryan-Romney cuts to Medicaid and shifting of this program to the states would result in adding at least an additional 44 million people – including the poor, disabled, and most vulnerable Americans – to the roles of the uninsured, denying them health care.

As reported by MedPage Today, “Robert Block, MD, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, spoke against Ryan’s proposed fiscal 2013 budget when it was offered in March. The plan reduces funding levels for vital child health programs in a time when many families are still recovering from the economic recession, Block said in a statement, noting that transforming Medicaid into a block grant program would limit coverage for children. More than half of Medicaid’s recipients are children.”

3. The Ryan-Romney Plan Would Repeal the Affordable Care Act, and End All the Benefits You Receive under It.

The Ryan-Romney plan specifically calls for a full repeal of the President’s Health Care Law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Affordable Care Act”). This includes a specific call for ending the subsidies that the President’s Health Care law will give to individuals to help them afford to purchase health insurance on newly created Insurance Exchanges, which would bring healthy competition to the insurance market.

The Ryan-Romney plan states (at page 31), “Repealing the exchange subsidies stops this downward slide and saves roughly $808 billion over the next ten years by abolishing the government spending and making sure that not a penny goes toward implementing the new law.”

Thus, the Ryan-Romney plan deliberately touts making it more difficult for low-income people to afford or obtain health care insurance. By eliminating the Affordable Care Act, they would abandon the approximately 38 million uninsured people who will be able to obtain affordable health insurance coverage because of the Affordable Care Act, as determined by Congress (See pages 16-17 of the Opinion of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in the Health Care Law litigation). The Romney-Ryan plan evidently would force these millions of Americans to remain uninsured — with no alternative than to continue going to the Emergency Room, thereby raising health care costs for all Americans. (See the Eleventh Circuit’ Court of Appeals Opinion, pages 18-20.)

What the Ryan-Romney Plan does not mention is the other massive pain that repealing the Affordable Care Act would inflict on millions of Americans who do have health insurance or Medicare. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (as the law’s full name explains) imposes reasonable regulations on private insurance companies in order to protect patients and make care more affordable.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, President’s Health Care Law, will, for example:

  • End denial of insurance coverage by private insurance companies based on “pre-existing conditions,”
  • End lifetime caps and annual caps on coverage,
  • End discrimination against women in premium charges,
  • Close the “doughnut hole” gap in Medicare’s coverage of prescription drugs, and has already saved $3.9 Billion on prescription drugs for those on Medicare,
  • Already allows children to remain on their parents’ policies until age 26,
  • Already provides extensive free preventive health care, which benefited 86 million Americans just in 2011, including substantial new preventive health care benefits for women, and significant new free preventive care for millions of Americans on Medicare, and
  • Holds premiums down by requiring insurance companies to justify any proposed premium rate increases over 10%, and prohibits insurance companies from spending more than 20% of any premium dollar on profits, administrative costs or salaries for the company — requiring that at least 80% of each premium dollar collected be spend on actual health care for policyholders, or the insurance company must issue a rebate to the policyholders; and
  • Has already resulted in $1.1 Billion of mandated premium rebates to millions of Americans from private insurance companies that violated the law’s requirement that they spend at least 80% of each premium dollar on actual health care rather than on administrative costs, salaries or profits for the insurance company.

These and hundreds of other patient benefits would be lost if the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the President’s Health Care Law, were to be repealed.

For a more detailed discussion of what repealing the Affordable Care Act (which some call “Obamacare”) would mean for you, and the many benefits you would lose, please see our previous reporting in:

4. Reaction to the Ryan-Romney plan among medical experts has been strongly negative.

As reported by MedPage Today, in its August 13, 2012 article, Campaign: Ryan’s Medicare Policies Draw Fire, “The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) opposes premium support [Ryan's voucher program with which he proposes to replace Medicare]. As health care costs increase, the fixed government contribution for premiums would prevent great increases in support, forcing beneficiaries to pay more, AAFP President Glen Stream, MD, noted in an interview with MedPage Today Monday. ‘We believe there are better ways to constrain the growth in cost without resigning ourselves to the level of growth that’s [now] happening and leaving the elderly on the hook to pay for that,’ he said.”

“The American Hospital Association also expressed concern over Ryan’s 2013 budget because half of its $5.3 trillion cuts in government spending over the next 10 years would come from health programs,” MedPage Today reported.

And, “Research!America, a non-profit advocate for higher medical and health research funding, said Ryan’s policies appear to counter his statements that funding basic research be a core government function. ‘His approach could bring our responsibility to combat deadly diseases and advance medical innovation … to a shuddering halt,’ Chief Executive Mary Woolley said in a statement Monday.”

5. Claims by Romney & Ryan That President Obama Has Cut Medicare Benefits for Seniors are False.

Mitt Romney’s website states: “President Obama, with the help of his liberal allies, cut Medicare by over $716 billion to pay for Obamacare — a travesty his campaign now is touting as an achievement. Seniors will be hit with higher costs and fewer benefits because of Obamacare’s Medicare cuts.” This assertion is being repeated by both Mr. Romney and his new running mate Paul Ryan on the campaign trail and in television interviews. However, this allegation that “Seniors will be hit with higher costs and fewer benefits because of Obamacare’s Medicare cuts” is absolutely and patently false.

As pointed out by the Washington Post, it is true that “On July 24, the Congressional Budget Office sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, detailing the budget impact of repealing the Affordable Care Act. If Congress overturned the law, “spending for Medicare would increase by an estimated $716 billion over that 2013–2022 period,” the CBO reportedly wrote.

These savings that the Affordable Care Act managed to create for the Medicare program will extend the life of the Medicare Trust Fund for eight years longer than it would be around without the Affordable Care Act, according to the Medicare Trustees’ Annual Report for 2011.

However, the savings extending the life of the Medicare Program which the Affordable Care Act provided DO NOT CUT MEDICARE BENEFITS. As reported by the Washington Post, the savings that the Affordable Care Act created to extend the life of Medicare did not include any cuts in benefits for seniors or other Medicare beneficiaries.

To the contrary, in fact, the Affordable Care Act ACTUALLY INCREASES BENEFITS FOR MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES — including adding substantial free preventive care and better prescription drug coverage (closing and covering the “donut hole” gap in coverage left by the Bush plan) — as discussed in more detail above.

As documented by the Washington Post, the savings achieved under the Affordable Care Act include cuts in wasted payments that were being made by the government to private insurance companies who were charging the government 17% more to provide Medicare benefits under the so-called Medicare Advantage program than it cost the government to provide those benefits itself under traditional Medicare — even though a recent study has shown that seniors report substantially better coverage under traditional Medicare than under the Medicare Advantage program. Life-extending savings for Medicare were also achieved through reductions in reimbursement rates to private hospitals (with the hospitals’ agreement), elimination of fraud and abuse, and similar savings made possible under the Affordable Care Act.

As stated by the Washington Post, “It’s worth noting that there’s one area these cuts don’t touch: Medicare benefits. The Affordable Care Act rolls back payment rates for hospitals and insurers. It does not, however, change the basket of benefits that patients have access to.”

As noted, the Affordable Care Act actually increases benefits dramatically for those on Medicare, as well as all Americans. See the discussion above regarding all of the many benefits that would be lost for seniors and others, if the Affordable Care Act were repealed, as the Romney-Ryan plan proposes.

It is curious that Ryan and Romney are now attacking President Obama for achieving $715 Billion of savings that extends the life of Medicare while enhancing benefits for seniors, even when their own plan specifically calls for drastic cuts to Medicare and other entitlement programs, warning (on page 47): “With both programs [Medicare and Social Security] weighed down by tens of trillions of dollars of unfunded liabilities, the federal government is making promises to current workers about their health and retirement security for which it has no means to pay. Without reform, these empty promises will soon become broken promises.”

Ryan and Romney’s criticism of President Obama for achieving $715 Billion of savings through the Affordable Care Act that extends the life of Medicare while enhancing benefits for seniors, is even more curious, given that, as reported in detail by the Washington Post the Ryan Budget plan specifically includes and extends those same $715 Billion of savings for the Medicare program that the Affordable Care Act created — and then on top of that adds drastic cuts in benefits for Seniors and conversion to a voucher system threatening to end Medicare as we know it entirely.

Moreover, instead of using these savings in Medicare costs to extend the life of Medicare and enhance benefits for seniors, as the President’s Affordable Care Act does, the Romney-Ryan Budget essentially would give away those $715 Billion in proposed tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

What Else Does the Ryan-Romney Budget Propose? A Massive Tax Cut for the Wealthy, While Slashing & Eliminating Programs for the Poor, Disabled, Seniors, and Children.

In a 99-page document, the Ryan Budget plan – the so-called ‘Path to Prosperity’ – provides more generalities than specifics. However, several non-partisan economic and policy experts have studied the proposals it contains and their economic and budgetary effect in detail.

As summarized by the Los Angeles Times, “Under Ryan’s plan, . . . the Internal Revenue Service would tax the wealthiest Americans less, but many of the poorest ones more; Medicare would be transformed; Medicaid would be cut by about a third; and all functions of government other than those health programs, Social Security and the military would shrink to levels not seen since the 1930s.”

1. The Ryan-Romney Plan Would Give Enormous Tax Cuts to the Wealthy and Impose Significant Tax Increases on the Middle Class.

In a detailed report analyzing the Ryan Budget plan, the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee states that the Ryan plan “proposes large tax cuts to individuals paid for by an unspecified broadening of the tax base.” “In reality, the Ryan plan gives the largest tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans and will pay for those tax cuts by raising the tax burden on middle-class workers,” the report concludes.

“Under the Ryan plan, the current progressive tax code would be replaced with just two tax brackets — 10 percent and 25 percent. The higher bracket would be a significant reduction from the 39.6 percent that high‐income taxpayers will pay beginning January 1, 2013, under current law. Additionally, the proposal would eliminate the alternative minimum tax (AMT), which adjusts a high‐earning taxpayer’s deductions and exemptions to trigger additional tax payments when the taxpayer’s burden falls below an average 26 percent tax rate. The richest households would receive the greatest benefit from these changes,” the Joint Economic Committee report explains.

“According to the Tax Policy Center, Ryan’s tax cuts will result in $4.5 trillion in lost federal revenue over the next ten years,” the Joint Economic Committee points out.

“To pay for his tax cuts, Chairman Ryan has proposed reducing several tax expenditures, but has failed to specify which expenditures and by how much,” the Joint Economic Committee notes.

“The preferential tax treatment for capital gains and dividends comprise a large portion of tax expenditures and provide the most benefit to those at the top of the income ladder,” the Joint Committee states. “However,” the Committee’s report notes, “Chairman Ryan indicated that these preferences are to remain untouched. The remaining large tax expenditures – tax deductions for mortgage interest, state and local taxes, and charitable contributions as well as the tax exclusions for employer‐sponsored health insurance benefits and contributions to 401 (k) plans—all deliver significant benefits to the middle class, and removing these tax expenditures would hit middle‐income taxpayers hard.”

Even after eliminating those deductions, the Joint Committee found that “the typical household making more than $1 million and filing a joint return will still experience a net reduction in taxes of $286,543 under Ryan’s budget. The typical household earning between $500,000 and $1 million will see their tax burden decline by $37,887.”

However, for middle-class families, the Joint Committee found that “The net effect is that a typical household earning between $50,000 and $100,000 and filing jointly will face a tax increase under the Ryan plan of $1,358, assuming the additional income is taxed at a 10 percent rate. If those households end up in the 25 percent tax bracket, their additional tax burden would more than double to $2,938. For households with incomes between $100,000 and $200,000, the tax increase is $2,681.”

2. The Ryan-Romney Plan Would Increase Defense Spending, but Hugely Cut or Eliminate Programs that Serve the Poor, Elderly, and Vulnerable.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “Chairman Ryan’s budget proposes $5.3 trillion in nondefense budget cuts (and about $200 billion in defense increases). The $5.3 trillion in cuts includes $1.2 trillion in cuts to nondefense discretionary programs.”

“House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget plan would get at least 62 percent of its $5.3 trillion in nondefense budget cuts over ten years (relative to a continuation of current policies) from programs that serve people of limited means. This stands a core principle of President Obama’s fiscal commission [headed by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson] on its head and violates basic principles of fairness,” the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities states.

Among the draconian cuts to programs for the poor, sick, elderly, disabled, children, and the vulnerable proposed by the Ryan-Romney Budget plan, are the following cited by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ report:

  • $2.4 trillion in reductions from Medicaid and other health care for people with low or moderate incomes.
  • $134 billion in cuts to SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program.
  • At least $463 billion in cuts in mandatory programs serving low-income Americans (other than Medicaid and SNAP). This includes $758 billion in proposed cuts from mandatory programs just in the income security portion of the budget for people with low-income, and $166 billion in mandatory cuts in the education, training, employment, and social services portion of the budget, including Pell Grants for low-income students.
  • At least $291 billion in cuts to programs for low- and moderate-income individuals and families.

Reactions to the Ryan-Romney Budget.

From the President of the Nonprofit Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

In a Statement issued March 21, 2012, Robert Greenstein, President of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said:

“The new Ryan budget is a remarkable document — one that, for most of the past half-century, would have been outside the bounds of mainstream discussion due to its extreme nature. In essence, this budget is Robin Hood in reverse — on steroids. It would likely produce the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history and likely increase poverty and inequality more than any other budget in recent times (and possibly in the nation’s history). It also would stand a core principle of the Bowles-Simpson fiscal commission’s report on its head — that policymakers should reduce the deficit in a way that does not increase poverty or widen inequality.

Specifically, the Ryan budget would impose extraordinary cuts in programs that serve as a lifeline for our nation’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens, and over time would cause tens of millions of Americans to lose their health insurance or become underinsured. It would also impose severe cuts in non-defense discretionary programs—much deeper than the across-the-board cuts (“sequestration”) that are scheduled to take place starting in January — thereby putting core government functions at still greater risk. Indeed, a new Congressional Budget Office analysis that Chairman Ryan himself requested shows that, after several decades, the Ryan budget would shrink the federal government so dramatically that most of what it does outside of Social Security, health care, and defense would essentially disappear.

Yet alongside these extraordinary budget cuts, with their dismantling of key parts of the safety net, the budget features stunning new tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. These tax cuts would come on top of the average tax cut of more than $125,000 a year that the Tax Policy Center (TPC) estimates that people who make over $1 million a year will receive if — as the Ryan budget also proposes —policymakers make all of President Bush’s tax cuts permanent.”

From Fox News:

As pointed out by Fox News,

While claims that Ryan is slashing the budget are questionable, there are studies to back up claims that the Republicans’ tax plans benefit the wealthy more than others.

A June study from the Joint Economic Committee — which is chaired by a Democrat — claims middle-class married couples could pay at least an extra $1,300 under Ryan’s plan, while those earning more than $1 million a year could see a nearly $290,000 cut.

According to an Aug. 1 study released by the Tax Policy Center, Romney’s tax plan would also include cuts that “predominantly favor upper-income taxpayers.”

It projected taxpayers making more than $1 million would see tax cuts averaging $175,000. Those making between $75,000 and $100,000 would see an average tax cut of $1,800. And those making under $30,000 would see an average increase of $130, according to the report.”

Fox News also states:

“To be sure, Ryan is proposing major changes to Medicare and taxation that Democrats see as problematic.

But claims that Ryan is slashing spending don’t quite square with the numbers. Those claims are convenient Washington shorthand for what Ryan’s plan actually proposes — which is to slow the rate of budget growth, but still allow the budget to grow.

Under the latest Ryan plan, the budget would grow from $3.6 trillion this year to $4.9 trillion in 2022. . . .

The 10-year [federal budget] deficit is still $3 trillion.”

From David A. Stockman, President Ronald Reagan’s Budget Director:

In an Op-Ed in the New York Times on August 13, 2012, entitled, “Paul Ryan’s Fairy-Tale Budget Plan,” David Stockman, President Ronald Reagan’s Budget Director, wrote:

“[I]t [the Paul Ryan Budget plan] shreds the measly means-tested safety net for the vulnerable: the roughly $100 billion per year for food stamps and cash assistance for needy families and the $300 billion budget for Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor and disabled. Shifting more Medicaid costs to the states will be mere make-believe if federal financing is drastically cut.

Likewise, hacking away at the roughly $400 billion domestic discretionary budget (what’s left of the federal budget after defense, Social Security, health and safety-net spending and interest on the national debt) will yield only a rounding error’s worth of savings . . .

The Ryan Plan boils down to a fetish for cutting the top marginal income-tax rate for “job creators” — i.e. the superwealthy — to 25 percent and paying for it with an as-yet-undisclosed plan to broaden the tax base. Of the $1 trillion in so-called tax expenditures that the plan would attack, the vast majority would come from slashing popular tax breaks for employer-provided health insurance, mortgage interest, 401(k) accounts, state and local taxes, charitable giving and the like, not to mention low rates on capital gains and dividends. . . .

In short, Mr. Ryan’s plan is devoid of credible math or hard policy choices.”

From Catholic Scholars, 90 Professors at Georgetown University:

A group of Catholic Scholars, 90 faculty members at Georgetown University, roundly criticized Ryan and his Budget proposal in an open letter to Rep. Ryan sent on the eve of his delivering a lecture at that Catholic University. The letter said, in part:

“We would be remiss in our duty to you and our students if we did not challenge your continuing misuse of Catholic teaching to defend a budget plan that decimates food programs for struggling families, radically weakens protections for the elderly and sick, and gives more tax breaks to the wealthiest few. As the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has wisely noted in several letters to Congress – “a just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons.” Catholic bishops recently wrote that “the House-passed budget resolution fails to meet these moral criteria.” In short, your budget appears to reflect the values of your favorite philosopher, Ayn Rand, rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Ayn Rand was a controversial, and in many circles discredited, 20th Century Russian-born novelist, pseudo-philosopher, and atheist whose basic ideology amounted to worshiping “individualism” (some say, selfishness) and an antagonism to any government regulation of the so-called “producers” (the wealthy) in society. Paul Ryan is noted for being a self-professed disciple of Ayn Rand.

As reported by the New York Times, “Paul D. Ryan, the Wisconsin representative and presumptive Republican vice-presidential nominee, would give out copies of Ayn Rand’s book “Atlas Shrugged” as Christmas presents. He described the novelist of heroic capitalism as “the reason I got into public service.” Listen to a recording of a speech given by Congressman Paul Ryan at the Atlas Society (a group devoted to the philosophy of Ayn Rand) on February 2, 2005. In the speech, he discussed how his personal and political philosophies were influenced by author Ayn Rand (Ryan starts speaking at about 1:40 on this video).

From Sister Simone Campbell, Leader of “Network,” a Catholic Group that Advocates for Policies to Help the Poor, who led a bus tour across 8 states called “Nuns on the Bus,” protesting the Ryan Budget plan:

On its website, NunsOnTheBus.com, the group of Catholic nuns led by Sister Simone Campbell on a bus tour across 8 states, protesting the Ryan Budget plan, states:

As Catholic Sisters, we must speak out against the current House Republican budget, authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). We do so because it harms people who are already suffering.

The Ryan Budget would:

  • Raise taxes on 18 million hardworking low-income families while cutting taxes for millionaires and big corporations.
  • Push the families of 2 million children into poverty.
  • Kick 8 million people off food stamps and 30 million off health care.

NETWORK’s Executive Director, Sister Simone Campbell, said in a recent media interview that Catholic Sisters “know the real-life struggles of real-life Americans.” It is this knowledge that impelled us to organize this bus trip. When the federal government cuts funding to programs that serve people in poverty, we see the effects in our daily work. Simply put, real people suffer. That is immoral. Click on the links below to see how the Ryan budget affects people in your state.

[Note: The above were the eight states through which the Nuns On The Bus tour traveled in their protest meetings against the Ryan Budget.]

More Information

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Read more about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and health care reform on the HelpingYouCare™ resource page on News on Health Care Reform.

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Copyright © 2012 Care-Help LLC, publisher of HelpingYouCare™. All rights reserved.

NOTICE: If you are reading this article on any website other than HelpingYouCare.com, please click HERE to go to the original article. No website other than HelpingYouCare™ has been given permission to publish this article.

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