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Obama vs. Ryan, By the Numbers

August 15, 2012 J,

This relatively clear, low-spin comparison between Barack Obama’s budget plan and Paul Ryan’s budget plan should put to rest any claims that the former is reasonable and the latter is “radical” or “extreme.”

This all must be read and understood in context, of course: that we have ballooning debt and deficits that will ruin the economy, bankrupt the country and shackle future generations if we don’t bring runaway spending under control. Under such circumstances, Obama’s status quo, more-spending approach is much more radical — for the simple reason that it’s fiscally and economically unsustainable.

Liberals and the media puppets are all feigning good cheer over the selection of deficit hawk Paul Ryan as Romney’s running mate, saying this weakens rather than strengthens the ticket. But clearly there’s nervousness behind the bravado. Ryan’s involvement makes this even more a race about fiscal policy, entitlement reform, getting government off the economy’s back and cutting Washington down to size. And on all those issues, our free-spending, government-loving, economy-killing President is extremely vulnerable.

Ryan’s selection will put his Medicare reform proposal back in the spotlight, but that’s good, since there’s much to applaud about it. Instead of giving bureaucrats control, Ryan’s bipartisan plan, co-authored with Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat, would limit runaway spending growth by putting seniors in charge of their health care decisions.

Everyone agrees that Medicare spending is unsustainable; the program must change.  According to this year’s Medicare Trustee’s report, the Medicare trust fund will be depleted by 2024.  Spending on Medicare has more than doubled over the last decade, up from $220 billion 2000 to $549 billion in 2011.  By 2020, Medicare spending will cost almost $1 trillion annually.

President Obama’s Medicare Plan Uses Control: Deep within the pages of the President’s health care law hides a plan to overhaul the Medicare system.  According to the Congressional Budget Office’s July 2012 baseline, the President will cut $741 billion from Medicare over the next ten years and use those savings for a vast new entitlement; double-counting the savings according to Medicare’s chief actuary. The main source is cutting reimbursement rates to doctors and hospitals.  As reimbursement rates decline, doctors will accept fewer Medicare patients, inflicting the already-obvious problems in Medicaid unto seniors as well.

The Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) is the vehicle the President uses to achieve these cuts.  IPAB is a board of 15 unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats who will have incredible authority to control Medicare.  Unless Congress specifically overturns IPAB’s recommendations with a 2/3 vote within 4 months AND finds similar cost savings in Medicare, IPAB’s recommendation will be considered law.

Under the President’s new health care law, unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats are in control.

Congressman Ryan’s Medicare Plan Offers Choice: Ryan’s Medicare plan also cuts Medicare by a similar amount as the President’s, but it banks those savings to preserve Medicare instead of spending them on a new entitlement.

Seniors and those close to retirement, over the age of 55, would see no change to Medicare under the Ryan plan.  Those currently below 55 would have the choice of one of two plans: traditional Medicare or receiving a payment to offset the cost of purchasing insurance in the private market, dubbed a premium-support payment.  Seniors could shop and compare various insurance plans and purchase the one that best matches their needs. This new competition will limit spending growth in Medicare.

Under Ryan’s plan the American people have a choice. And that’s a major difference.

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