Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Entitlement reform update

In a small conference room deep inside the Capitol, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan could be mistaken for a traveling salesman at a business meeting.

Using a PowerPoint presentation with alarming charts and frightening graphs, the Wisconsin Republican is trying to sell the need to tackle the politically explosive parts of the budget that have driven America's deep debt -- entitlements.

Ryan's audience? Fellow House Republicans.
Acknowledging the vast problems resulting from runaway entitlement spending isn't terribly controversial. Shortly before taking office Barack Obama said the following regarding Medicare and Social Security:
"What we have done is kicked this can down the road. We are now at the end of the road and are not in a position to kick it any further. We have to signal seriousness in this by making sure some of the hard decisions are made under my watch, not someone else's."
It should therefore be welcome news that a House Budget Committee spokesman has said the GOP 2012 budget resolution, expected to be unveiled in early April, would include “appreciable action” toward reform on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. The same article also notes that Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) expressed his desire last week for the Senate's budget resolution to address all three entitlements programs.

The Democratic response to these developments? Predictable:
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is launching a paid media campaigns in 10 districts this morning hitting Republican members for supporting cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

Newspaper ads, automated phone calls, live phone calls, and emails will target Reps. Paul Gosar (Ariz.), Bill Young (Fla.), Allen West (Fla.), Dan Benishek (Mich.), Joe Heck (Nev.), Lou Barletta (Pa.), Blake Farenthold (Texas), Paul Ryan (Wis.), Sean Duffy (Wis.) and David McKinley (W.Va.)

Ryan, the GOP’s Budget Committee chairman, has said that the Republican budget will include cuts to the entitlement programs. But those kinds of cuts poll very poorly, and it’s a pretty easy campaign issue for Democrats.
As Paul Ryan said, as quoted by The Hill:
“Is this a political weapon we are handing our adversaries? Of course it is. I think everybody knows that we are walking into I guess what you would call a political trap that arguably we are setting for ourselves ... but we can’t wait. This needs leadership. If you just follow the polls, you are nothing but a follower."

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