If America’s seniors really want to get at the heart of the ongoing political debate about our nation’s economic mess and the solutions offered to change course, yesterday provided a good snapshot of what’s at stake House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan has introduced the GOP/Ryan budget and as expected it envisions balancing the budget by turning Medicare into a privatized program giving seniors a voucher (designed not to keep pace with their health costs over time) to buy private insurance.  The new twist offered this year is a promise to also keep traditional Medicare as an option.  Unfortunately, what that really means is private insurers will siphon-off younger-healthier seniors while older and sicker patients remain in traditional Medicare which will increase the programs costs, potentially limit doctor participation, and create a death spiral to the Medicare’s demise.  Ultimately, the ideological goal of getting the government out of the business of providing healthcare for seniors will be achieved.  The American Prospect offers this description:
“Most Republicans really do believe that Medicare is a vile, socialistic cancer on the American system, and things would be much better if it were privatized. The fact that Medicare works so much better than private insurance (it has far lower administrative costs, and its overall costs have been rising at a slower rate than those of private insurance), and that it's so popular, is just all the more reason why it's so hateful to them. Medicare validates the idea that government can do something better than the private sector, standing as a living rebuke to arguments they make in so many areas.”
And maybe this also explains while Congressman Ryan continues to conflate America’s retirees with the poor and welfare with Medicare.   By lumping these programs together he attempts to paint a picture of Americans simply milking the system, which conveniently ignores the fact that workers contribute to Medicare.  He did it again in yesterday’s budget news conference (25 minutes into this video):
“but we don’t want to turn this safety net into a hammock that lulls able-bodied people into lives of dependency and complacency, that drains them of their will and the intent to make the most of their lives.”
Now, Congressman Ryan knows that Medicare isn’t welfare.  He knows that American workers help fund Medicare throughout their working lives.  Still…the hammock analogy remains one of his favorite talking points.  Now, consider the fact that on the flipside there were very few details offered yesterday describing the huge tax cuts proposed in this GOP/Ryan budget.  This plan would provide even more tax cuts to the wealthy, an average of $150,000 for the richest among us, while also protecting tax breaks and giveaways to corporations reaping huge profits.  The National Journal reports:
The fiscal 2013 House Republican budget proposal contains a tax-code overhaul lowering corporate and individual tax rates, eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax, and repealing taxes associated with the health care reform law. This would result in $4.6 trillion in lost revenue over a 10-year period, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. That’s on top of the estimated $5.4 trillion lost by extending the Bush-era tax cuts. House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., on Tuesday called his plan revenue-neutral, saying eliminated loopholes and tax shelters would pay for the cuts. Pressed at a news conference for specifics, he declined to say which tax breaks he’d like to forgo. Ryan said he would leave that decision to the House Ways and Means Committee.
Simply put, this GOP budget proposes tax cuts for corporations and billionaires and benefit cuts for everyone else. Speaking of billionaires… One of Mitt Romney’s top economic advisors , Greg Mankiw,  proved that what’s funny for the 1% isn’t quite so humorous for the rest of us.  Mankiw posted this “joke” on his blog under the headline: “A Fiscal Solution”.
Romney’s  staff says “obviously it’s not serious”.  We say obviously it’s not funny either -- especially when you know that Governor Romney supports the Ryan/GOP budget which is a fiscal plan that threatens the health and security of millions of American seniors.  That’s certainly no joke.