Saluting Chairman Ryan

At last, a leader has presented a courageous plan to address the virtually crippled state of the economy.  With his proposal, “The Path to Prosperity, Restoring America’s Promise,” Republican House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan has interjected the needed stimulus for substantive debate to resolve the endless budget deficits and the threatening debt crisis.   Politicians whose knee-jerk reaction is to immediately demagogue the Ryan plan would better serve the country by introducing modifications to this plan or their own alternatives.

Rep. Ryan has stepped out beyond the narrow budget discussions of his Committee to cover all the bases to achieve an “Efficient, Effective and Responsible Government.”   He has emphasized the importance of growing the economy through lower rates of taxation at both the individual and corporate level: “A broader base with lower rates is central to a fair, efficient and sustainable tax code, and the economic growth spurred by such a reform is a precondition to fixing the nation’s fiscal mess.”

If this sounds familiar, Rep. Ryan notably worked as speechwriter for the late Congressman Jack Kemp.  You can almost hear Kemp’s voice in the rallying cries that: “A government that allows economic destinies to be determine by political considerations rather than merit cannot lead the world in productivity and growth,” and “The biggest driver of revenue to the federal government isn’t higher rates – it’s economic growth.  Growth is the key to fiscal sustainability – and low rates are the key to growth.”

The Ryan Plan calls for repealing last year’s healthcare law and replacing, for those under 55, blank-check Medicare payments with a “premium-support” limited voucher system in an insurance exchange.  This subsidy would also be means-tested.  It does beg the question as to why not include all Medicare recipients in this Plan, and not just those who will arrive at eligibility in about a decade?

As to the tax system, reform suggestions are limited to lowering rates, broadening the base by eliminating loopholes and preferences, and cutting the number of brackets.   But introducing sweeping tax reform concepts such as suggested by Gov. Mitch Daniels would have distracted from this sensible start to substantive debate about balancing the budget and debt reduction.  The discussion of radical reform to the revenue side will have to wait.  Paul Ryan deserves much credit.