Outgoing Speaker of the House Paul Ryan gave a farewell speech in which he bemoaned what he referred to as politics of “outrage”, and called for better political discourse. Then he said something that he apparently still does not realize creates outrage: calls to cut Social Security and Medicare:
“I acknowledge plainly that my ambitions for entitlement reform have outpaced the political reality, and I consider this our greatest unfinished business,” he said.
Of course, Paul Ryan used the code words “entitlement reform” to describe what he considers to be “our greatest unfinished business”. But most people know by now what that means. Entitlement reform means cuts to Social Security and Medicare, big cuts. While Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan has been busy creating proposals that do exactly that, but he is still trying to hide behind word games to describe it, even as he exits government:
House Republicans released a proposal Tuesday that would balance the budget in nine years — but only by making large cuts to entitlement programs, including Medicare, that President Trump vowed not to touch.
The House Republican budget, titled “A Brighter American Future,” would remake Medicare by giving seniors the option of enrolling in private plans that compete with traditional Medicare, a system of competition designed to keep costs down but dismissed by critics as an effort to privatize the program. Along with other changes, the budget proposes to squeeze $537 billion out of Medicare over the next decade.
The budget would transform Medicaid, the federal-state health-care program for the poor, by limiting per capita payments or allowing states to turn it into a block-grant program — the same approach House Republicans took in their legislation that passed last year to repeal the Affordable Care Act (the repeal effort died in the Senate, but the GOP budget assumes that the repeal takes place). It also proposes adding work requirements for certain adults enrolled in Medicaid. Changes to Medicaid and other health programs would account for $1.5 trillion in savings.
Social Security comes in for more modest cuts of $4 billion over the decade, which the budget projects could be reached by eliminating concurrent receipt of unemployment benefits and Social Security disability insurance.
Those unbelievably harsh cuts to programs that help millions of Americans is what Paul Ryan considers to be “our greatest unfinished business”.
Good riddance, Paul Ryan. Our political discourse will be better without you.