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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Looking for the Next Ronald Reagan

“The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.” — Henry A. Kissinger

For the past twenty or so years the Republican party has been looking for the next Ronald Reagan and the search has been in vain. At first we thought it might be George W. Bush, but he was no Reagan. He cut taxes, but increased the debt through his “compassionate conservatism.”

We have gone through a list of possible candidates including a self-proclaimed Reaganite, John McCain. We have seen persons like Mitt Romney, the favorite of the Democrats, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, who has a solution for problems we have not discovered yet, and Sarah Palin, once governor of Alaska and Vice Presidential candidate. All have tried to don the Reagan mantle, but the public has not accepted them as the next Reagan.

Today we have, until a year ago, a little known congressman from a very liberal state, who has rocketed up to vie for the Reagan mantle and he just might get it.

His name is Paul Ryan, a 6 term congressman from Wisconsin. As thePaul_Ryan,_official_portrait,_111th_Congress chairman of the congressional budget committee Ryan has demonstrated more courage and integrity than any of the aforementioned Republican wanabes He has come up with a budget that will cut over $6 trillion dollars from our deficit in the next ten years. A budget with specific action plans for cutting the costs of Medicaid and Medicare and saving Social Security. His budget attacks every sacred cow our government has been spending money on from food stamps to education.

Ryan knows he is setting himself up for demagoguing from the left. I an interview with Chris Wallace this past Sunday he admitted that he was giving the Democrats grist for their mill in 2012, but he said he was leaving the decision to the American taxpayer on who has the right approach to government. He does not beat about the bush when talking about this budget and make no apologies. This takes political courage albeit it must make some of the old guard Republican elites a little nervous.

Ryan’s plan called the Path to Prosperity includes the following:

Reducing spending: This budget proposes to bring spending on domestic government agencies to below 2008 levels, and it freezes this category of spending for five years. The savings proposals are numerous, and include reforming agricultural subsidies, shrinking the federal work force through a sensible attrition policy, and accepting Defense Secretary Robert Gates' plan to target inefficiencies at the Pentagon.

Welfare reform: This budget will build upon the historic welfare reforms of the late 1990s by converting the federal share of Medicaid spending into a block grant that lets states create a range of options and gives Medicaid patients access to better care. It proposes similar reforms to the food-stamp program, ending the flawed incentive structure that rewards states for adding to the rolls. Finally, this budget recognizes that the best welfare program is one that ends with a job—it consolidates dozens of duplicative job-training programs into more accessible, accountable career scholarships that will better serve people looking for work.

Ryan said: As we strengthen and improve welfare programs for those who need them, we eliminate welfare for those who don't. Our budget targets corporate welfare, starting by ending the conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that is costing taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars. It gets rid of the permanent Wall Street bailout authority that Congress created last year. And it rolls back expensive handouts for uncompetitive sources of energy, calling instead for a free and open marketplace for energy development, innovation and exploration.”

Health and retirement security: This budget's reforms will protect health and retirement security. This starts with saving Medicare. The open-ended, blank-check nature of the Medicare subsidy threatens the solvency of this critical program and creates inexcusable levels of waste. This budget takes action where others have ducked. But because government should not force people to reorganize their lives, its reforms will not affect those in or near retirement in any way.

Starting in 2022, new Medicare beneficiaries will be enrolled in the same kind of health-care program that members of Congress enjoy. Future Medicare recipients will be able to choose a plan that works best for them from a list of guaranteed coverage options. This is not a voucher program but rather a premium-support model. A Medicare premium-support payment would be paid, by Medicare, to the plan chosen by the beneficiary, subsidizing its cost.

In addition, Medicare will provide increased assistance for lower- income beneficiaries and those with greater health risks. Reform that empowers individuals—with more help for the poor and the sick—will guarantee that Medicare can fulfill the promise of health security for America's seniors

Ryan’s plan states; “We must also reform Social Security to prevent severe cuts to future benefits. This budget forces policy makers to work together to enact common-sense reforms. The goal of this proposal is to save Social Security for current retirees and strengthen it for future generations by building upon ideas offered by the president's bipartisan fiscal commission.”

Budget enforcement: This budget recognizes that it is not enough to change how much government spends. We must also change how government spends. It proposes budget-process reforms—including real, enforceable caps on spending—to make sure government spends and taxes only as much as it needs to fulfill its constitutionally prescribed roles.

Tax reform: This budget would focus on growth by reforming the nation's outdated tax code, consolidating brackets, lowering tax rates, and assuming top individual and corporate rates of 25%. It maintains a revenue-neutral approach by clearing out a burdensome tangle of deductions and loopholes that distort economic activity and leave some corporations paying no income taxes at all.

The deficit is a spending problem. That's the simple truth. If federal government spending after President Clinton's last budget had simply grown fast enough to keep up with inflation and the growth in population, the 2012 budget would be running over a $70 billion surplus. Instead, federal expenditures more than doubled from $1.86 to $3.82 trillion in the ten years from 2001 to 2011, causing this year’s enormous $1.65 trillion deficit.

During President Obama's first three years in office the government's deficitsED-AN340_ryan_G_20110404162403 are adding up to over $4.3 trillion. And there is no letup in sight. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the President Obama's budget plans will add another $10.4 trillion in deficits over the next decade from 2012 to 2021.

Americans can't afford to ignore this problem. The price tag for that expected addition to the federal debt over the next decade comes to over $134,000 for a family of four. That doubles the debt the CBO expects that families will already face by the end of this year.

Obama’s massive budget increases over the last couple of years were promised to just be temporary. Now Democrats argue that they can’t be touched. Americans simply can’t afford another decade of deficits that add up to $134,000 for a family of four. Paul Ryan's proposal is actually fairly modest, adding just another $77,000 to the total debt for a family of four.

Government spending is simply out of control. Despite facing what will surely be vicious attacks, Ryan's proposal makes a real start at digging us out of this mess.

This is what makes Ryan unique among politicians. He has gone on record with a plan to cut our increasing deficit and reduce our growing debt. Other politicians speak in platitudes about reducing the size of government without offering any specifics. They wait until they are elected and then do nothing as they have no accountability for what they said during campaigning.

I am sure Ryan’s plan will be blasted by the Democrats and left-wing press. They are great at criticizing, but poor at offering alternatives. They just want to continue the current policies while they are in office and then leave the solutions to someone else at a latter day.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee, already fired the first salvo on Sunday, accusing Ryan of “protecting tax breaks for millionaires, oil companies and other big-money special interests while slashing our investment in education, ending the current health care guarantees for seniors on Medicare, and denying health care coverage to tens of millions of Americans.” Of course, this was before Van Hollen even had read Ryan’s proposal.

Van Hollen fired the opening blast from the left and it will get meaner and more fanatical. There will be personal attacks and the progressives will scream that the evil Republicans want seniors to die in the streets and children to go without food or education. Even today Nancy Pelosi went on TV to talks about the 6 million seniors who would starve without their meals on wheels. When her staff was quizzed about the comment they told Fox News that they had no idea where she got these numbers from. Even her own congressional staff was confused by her remarks. This is the type a attack that will be thrown at the Republicans all this year and into next.

Ryan and his colleagues in the House and Senate will have to sell this plan to the American taxpayers. They should sell it with facts and truth and let the Democrats do as they always do, lie.

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