It’s clear GOP Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” budget plan is anything but for the vast majority of working Americans.   The alleged core value of   “shared sacrifice” actually means sacrifice for everyone except corporations (especially insurers) and wealthy Americans.  The House GOP leadership’s dream for America couldn’t be more clearly defined than in the budget plan unveiled today.  More tax breaks for the wealthy and budget cuts for everyone else. For Americans who depend on Social Security and Medicare, this budget plan says “tough luck”. For corporations that want even more tax loopholes and insurers who’d love the government to pay them to provide seniors less coverage at a higher cost, this budget is truly a dream come true.  For working Americans; however, this budget is their worst nightmare.  That’s the message we delivered today at a Capitol Hill news conference led by Families USA : “The Medicare provisions, in particular, will send this nation back to a time before Medicare was enacted, when over one-half of the senior population had no health care coverage at all.  The Ryan plan would replace the current Medicare program with vouchers and leave seniors and the disabled – some of our most vulnerable Americans – hostage to the whims of the private marketplace.  Over time, this will destroy the only health insurance program available to 47 million Americans.  Vouchers are designed not to keep up with the increasing cost of health insurance… that is why they save money.   Destroying Medicare and leaving millions of Americans without adequate health coverage is not a path to prosperity for anyone except for-profit insurers and the American people understand that.” Max Richtman, NCPSSM Executive Vice President That’s why nearly 100,000 National Committee members have signed letters to their representatives on Capitol Hill reminding them that cutting Social Security and Medicare is not the answer to our budget woes.  Those letters have been delivered to Congress today with a clear message: “Social Security and Medicare belong to the American people who have paid (and are paying) into these programs in exchange for promised benefits.  I urge you to reject any deficit reduction plans that cut benefits and, instead, support only those proposals that ensure the viability of Social Security and Medicare.” Here is just some of what the GOP budget plan would do:
  • Eliminate Medicare and replace it with a privatized system where seniors get vouchers (however, Ryan’s new poll-tested language is now “premium assistance payments”) to pay for health care.  In truth, we prefer to call them “coupons” since they really offer about that much assistance because the whole idea is that the voucher will never actually cover the true costs of healthcare. That’s where the government saves money.  Under this scheme, taxpayers will pay insurers to provide less coverage while beneficiaries pick up more of the tab.  Congressional Quarterly describes it this way:
“The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reviewed an earlier version of the plan and found it probably would lead to increased costs or reduced benefits for beneficiaries. “First, most of the savings for Medicare under the proposal stem from reducing the amounts that the federal government would pay for enrollees on a per capita basis,” according to the CBO’s Nov. 17 analysis. “Second, future beneficiaries would probably face higher premiums in the private market for a package of benefits similar to that currently provided by Medicare.”
  • Social Security reforms will be fast-tracked.  While the legislative language of Ryan’s plan doesn’t propose specific cuts (allowing them to claim “we’re not cutting Social Security” before an election year) this legislation does create a new triggering mechanism and fast-tracked process for Social Security cuts which is unprecedented in the history of Congressional budget resolutions.  The trigger language in this bill is designed to circumvent the current process in order to mandate fast-tracked reforms through Congress.  And since this bill’s summary also rules out revenue changes, such as the most popular option for Social Security reform, raising the payroll tax cap so that the wealthier pay their fair share, what’s left? Benefit cuts.  In fact, the Ryan plan’s summary endorses cutting future Social Security benefits for everyone who is earning more than $22,000 a year right now (while they’re working) – which is the vast majority of Americans.
  • Social Security Administration cuts. This budget also assumes a continuation of GOP budget proposals which undermine Social Security by cutting its administrative budget so deep that the SSA can’t process claims in a timely way to serve the public.
  • Won’t pay back the Trust Fund.  Rep. Ryan’s budget summary denies the federal government’s responsibility to repay the $2.6 trillion Social Security trust fund, built up by payroll contributions from generations of working Americans. This Budget plan states:  “Any value in the balances in the Social Security trust fund is derived from dubious government accounting.”
In other words, it was real money when you paid it into the Trust Fund but now House GOP leaders have declared those dollars just “dubious government accounting.”  Speaking of dubious accounting, some are already raising the red flag on this plan’s manipulation of the numbers. Make no mistake about it, House Republican leaders intend to use the current fiscal crisis, created by decades of borrow and spend policies to justify slashing programs which touch the lives of virtually every American family. This isn’t fiscal responsibility. But it does show just how large the disconnect between House Republican leaders and working Americans truly is because the American people will not support dismantling Medicare or cuts in Social Security.  These are not the priorities seniors voted for last November and now’s the time to deliver that message. Take a moment and use our Legislative Action Center to send an email to your members of Congress.  It’s easy and all you need to know is your zipcode.   We must let Washington know Paul Ryan’s priorities are not America’s priorities.