Paul Ryan says Obama fiscal commission report is a step ‘backwards’

Rep. Paul Ryan, a Republican authority on spending and taxes, made a dramatic break Thursday with the deficit and debt reduction plan released the day before by President Obama’s commission.

“I think it goes backwards,” Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican and the next chairman of the House Budget Committee, said at a breakfast with reporters sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.

“I think it makes health care dramatically worse. And look, I’m trying to be guarded in my comments because I really respect what [commission co-chairs] Erskine [Bowles] and Alan [Simpson] have done. They should be commended. But they didn’t deal with health care.”

Ryan’s comments are the most unconditional rebuke of a plan that has been regarded even by conservatives on the commission as fairly conservative because of its recommendations on cutting spending in some parts of the budget, and on reform of Social Security and the tax system so that rates can be dramatically lowered.

Ryan, whose acumen with budget data has elevated him over the past year to become a leading figure in the GOP, acknowledged positive progress on these other issues, but said they were overshadowed by an acceleration of the health-care system put in place under Obama’s new law passed in March.

“It takes a few steps forward on social security and taxes and discretionary [spending], but it takes many steps backwards in health care. And that’s the big thing,” he said.

So far, nine of the commission’s 18 members have said they plan to vote for the plan released Wednesday, in a vote to be held Friday.

But even though Sen. Tom Coburn, the Oklahoma Republican who is as conservative as Ryan and who has worked with him on an alternative health care plan, is going to vote for the plan, Ryan said he will not vote for it.

“It not only didn’t address the elephant in the room – health care – it made it fatter,” he said.

The main feature of the debt commission plan that does this, he said, is changing tax laws to give a tax break for employer-provided health insurance, without doing anything to change the broader system put in place under Obama’s overhaul.

“If you repeal the tax exclusion for individuals while maintaining the infrastructure of Obamacare — this actually enhances it in a few ways — then all you’re doing is accelerating the expansion of Obamacare,” he said. “You’re going to accelerate the dumping of people from employer-sponsored health insurance into these exchanges. The exchanges will grow and magnify far faster than [Congressional Budget Office] or anybody else anticipated.”

“We’re going to expand and blow up a new entitlement,” he said. “It makes the health care cost curve go up not down.”

Ryan created a comprehensive plan a few years ago, called “The Road Map,” that would dramatically alter the way health care is paid for, specifically in programs like Medicare and Medicaid. His plan would give a payment to individuals and allow them to shop for the best price for services.

Critics say these vouchers, a term Ryan does not necessarily prefer, would be outpaced by the soaring costs of health care. Ryan believes that a system that empowers consumers to hold providers accountable for pricing is the best way to drive down costs, rather than a government-enforced system of price controls or private sector intervention.

He said that the nation’s unfunded liabilities have risen from $62.9 trillion in 2009 to $88.6 trillion, according to the Government Accountability Office.

“Five-point-three trillion of that is Social Security,” Ryan said. “The rest are health-care programs, federal health-care entitlements. You cannot fix this problem without taking on health care.”

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  • bigsigh

    “short bus riders”……tsk, tsk

  • hampton

    Thanks for confirming that you have nothing of value to say.

    • baal


      I love you man!

  • baal

    It appears that some of our trolls have been reading…. (drumroll)….Paul Krugman. So, we now have Obama’s Kryptonite and something that makes Krugman break out in hives.


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  • truebearing

    Ryan makes a good point regarding Obamacare, and there is no guarantee that Obamacare will ultimately be repealed, yet Coburn is basing his vote on that assumption. We should be pruning Obamacare to the roots, every chance we get. If we can uproot and burn it at some point, fine, but for now lets poison it.

    Regardless of the quibbling over details, which will inevitably go on for a long time, Ryan has the right idea when he proposes turning the buying power over to individuals with regard to their health care. Eliminating governmental and institutional control invariably minimizes waste, makes the individual more responsible for their care, gives them the opportunity to shop and negotiate, and changes the paradigm in the health care industry towards competitive service and costs. This will add up to major savings. Add tort reform and you’ve really got a winner.

    • hampton

      Platitudes, spoken by a naif who has obviously never had to deal with health insurance companies in a significant way either by securing coverage for employees or as an individual with a significant disease or injury. Your lack of real life experience with healthcare insurance is showing. As is your lack of knowledge.

      We pay more for our healthcare in the US by far than any other country. Why? In other countries, governments set the rates that will be paid for different treatments and drugs, even when private insurers are purchasing. In our country, the government doesn’t set those rates for private insurers, but prices paid by Medicare which are negotiated by the government are much lower than those paid by private insurers.

      A recent study by the Commonwealth Foundation showed that here in the US we spend more time involved in paperwork and disputes and had more claims denied –rationing–and less confidence that we’re able to afford needed healthcare or receive needed healthcare than any other industrialized country, all of which have more government involvement in healthcare.

      Your claim that “eliminating governmental and institutional control invariably minimizes waste, makes the individual more responsible for their care, gives them the opportunity to shop and negotiate, and changes the paradigm in the health care industry towards competitive service and costs” is a load of unsubstantiated crap. But then, that’s your m.o., isn’t it?

      • baal

        Of course, no one here has ever dealt with insurance companies because we just materialized a few moments ago.

        • hampton

          You’re an idiot, baal. I said: “never had to deal with health insurance companies in a significant way either by securing coverage for employees or as an individual with a significant disease or injury.” And I was responding to truebearing. I didn’t say: “no one here has ever dealt with insurance companies.”

          If you have a point, make one. Try basing it in real experience or facts.

          • baal

            I can’t make a point, none of us can, especially about anything so alien as dealing with health insurance companies in a significant way either by securing coverage for employees or as an individual with a significant disease or injury–
            because we just materialized on this planet in the last 24 hours.

            We didnt exist earlier and have no frame of reference for the things you are describing. You are the only one. Save us!

          • hampton


        • Patrick Henry

          The Commonwealth Fund is a FAR LEFT echo chamber, think(?) tank that favors single-payer.

      • krjohnson

        Well, when you have the power to simply dictate what people will pay by making it a line item in your national budget you probably will get a lower price. But that is called “price controls” and they don’t work. They cause shortages, they cause rationing, they cause untold social unrest. Why don’t you look up “price controls” in your econ 101 textbook? What you’ll find will not exactly be a whole-hearted endorsement.

        I’ll tell you why we pay more in health care than we should, and why it keeps growing. It’s because of health insurance! It’s because someone else is paying for it! Imagine we had grocery insurance. Everybody goes into the store, there’s no advertised pricing because the customers won’t pay it anyway so they don’t care. You’re figuring out what to have for dinner. Are you going to pick up the fillet minion or the ground beef? You go to the checkout line, it’s $500, you might be a little shocked but honestly you don’t think too much about it afterwords because you aren’t paying in the first place. And the store manager can charge whatever he thinks appropriate, waste money on fancy light fixtures and tuxedos for all the employees and all kinds of other things because price is no object. He just passes it on to the grocery insurance company.

        What do you do to fix this? You encourage people to go without “full service” insurance and get high deductible insurance for true catastrophes instead. You encourage HSAs so that people pay for their predictable or low cost health-care costs out of pocket instead of relying on insurance. You might even mandate advertised pricing, although it will probably come on it’s own once people start paying for stuff themselves.

        • hampton

          “[price controls] cause shortages, they cause rationing, they cause untold social unrest”

          We already have rationing in health care, dictated by profit-making insurance companies. And sorry, but your “untold social unrest” argument doesn’t hold water with regards to healthcare in countries where there is government price fixing.

          • krjohnson

            I can’t believe it. I found a guy that thinks price controls are a good thing. Please, sir. Read an economics textbook. Take an economics class. I recommend Thomas Sowell’s “Basic Economics, 4th ed.” but it’s in all of them. It’s a textbook example.

          • Patrick Henry

            You are absolutely correct. We do have a health care system, primarily run by private insurers. THE RESULT: THE USA ENJOYS THE BEST HEALTH CARE IN THE WORLD.

            And while I am at it let me give you a little advice. Try to have a point when you post instead of always sounding like a brain dead leftist Troll who just left a Noam Chomsky rally. A fact or two would be helpful maybe even a recognizable economic theory instead of the bleatings of a leftist “useful fool”.

            Sorry, didn’t mean to be so tough, but I really get sick of the ad hominem, class warfare, power to the people, anecdotal drivel of leftist who have no idea how capoitalism works or why we have the Worlds best health care.

      • baal

        Naif? Really? Do you do dinner theater?

        • hampton

          I repeat, you’re an idiot, baal, with nothing to say.

          • baal

            Asking whether you do dinner theater was really more of a question than a statement…

  • libertyatstake

    The Smart Guy speaks. (Take good notes, everyone)

    “Because the Only Good Progressive is a Failed Progressive”

  • Patrick Henry

    Ryan couldn’t be more correct when he said about Obamacare,
    “It makes the health care cost curve go up not down.”

    As Maggie Thatcher remarked, “the problem with Socialism is eventually you run out of other peoples money”.

    That is also the problem with ALL government health programs, medicare, medicaid, S-chip, Obamacare, you name it, they all create HUGE cost shifting to the private plans. How is this accomplished; they reimburse at such low amounts (Medicaid to hospitals at 18% of billed charges)that the providers, of all types, have to recoup their losses from the private plans. THIS OF COURSE DRIVES UP THE COST OF PRIVATE INSURANCE.

    If Obamacare were to survive (unlikely) what will happen, because of the exchanges and the ridiculous requirements on private carriers the private plans will become a smaller and smaller fraction of the health care finance system and eventually go out of business. This was the goal of the Socialists for Obamacare all along. Make impossible rules, offer subsidized alternatives (exchanges), continue to cost shift and drive the private carriers out of business.

    Now’s when the fun starts. The government can no longer hide it’s cost by shifting them to the Aetna’s, Cigna’s, Humana’s, Wellpoint’s, UHC’s and Blue Cross’s of the world. So where do they get the money? Basically three places; borrow it, take it from you and me via taxation and finally, by denying care. That’s right, the DEATH PANELS, so accurately described by Sarah Palin.

    There is not a single Socialized medicine plan in the world, be it U.K., Canada, France or Germany that does not RATION (Death Panels)care to preserve dollars. Heck, they will even brag about how they do it. Not a week goes by where you can’t find numerous articles about how Canada rations this or that or the U.K. bans a life saving drug because of costs. OBAMACARE: Welcome to the brave new world of, “let grandma die.”

    • hampton

      There is not a single private insurance plan that does not ration care, either.

      • Patrick Henry

        Give me an example of how private insurers “ration” care. It doesn’t even have to be specific.

        All of that aside:
        If you have private insurance, you have a legally enforceable contract, that guarantees you coverage for a whole basket of services. You have rights and if you have really been wronged you can seek redress.

        Here’s the corollary; IF YOU HAVE OBAMACARE YOU DIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • hampton

          Rationing happens all the time when insurers deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, or on technical reasons for certain procedures. I can name a hundreds of examples among my own circle of employees, friends, and family. A woman denied coverage for nausea medicine post-chemotherapy for starters. People tossed out of the hospital before they’re ready because the insurer only covers a certain number of days. How about the recent example that was all over the news where a newborn baby was not covered for a heart problem, because the insurance company called it pre-existing

          Look, using a lot of capital letters and exclamation points doesn’t make you right — or sound particularly bright for that matter. You corollary statement is just stupid and wrong. Read the law. You’re talking out of your ass.

          • Patrick Henry

            This kind of drivel is exactly what I expected out of you. Anecdotal stories of this person said, that person said. Well let me explain this to you very simply.

            When people enter into a contractual agreement for health insurance, they have an obligation to understand what that contract covers. Most don’t and this leads to a huge number of these problems.

            “How about the recent example that was all over the news where a newborn baby was not covered for a heart problem, because the insurance company called it pre-existing” Document this with a link and I will explain it to you.

            I would try to explain the pre-existing condition clause of an insurance contract but I would be wasting my time since you wouldn’t understand it anyway.
            I’ll leave you with this as it relates to pre-ex. Call up State Farm and tell them this: “I don’t have home owners insurance but my house is on fire so I DEMAND you sell me insurance”

  • johnanderson


    You are all over this thread denouncing Ryan’s plan. I’m not as brushed up on his plan as I’d like to be, but exactly what kind of plan do you support? It’s very hard to make a differential analysis of proposed economic plans when all one is offered is a negative quips from a single plan. Thus far you have offered nothing to compare to, so how would any person be able to determine the relative merits of Ryan’s plan?

    • oeno

      Sorry for being tardy. I was taking a break from a project I’m working on, started posting and lost track of time and my wife came home from work, which means that I cede the computer until dinner time.

      I was actually excited when the Roadmap was first unveiled, printing out the CBO letter and reading it carefully. It only took a few pages to see some serious problems.

      The fact that they were running numbers for the “vouchers” based on 2010 dollars is the first tip-off to anyone reading the letter.

      It’s not like I haven’t had disappointments during the interim of his “road map”. I was very excited by the Wyden-Gregg tax reform plan, but aside from the Heritage Foundation I haven’t seen anything (I called everyone on the Senate Budget Committee and people that are in that particular department at the CBO, but it just went down an Orwellian memory hole)of much substance reporting on it.

      Haven’t had a chance to read up on the Deficit Commission (I highly doubt they’ll get 14 out of 18 members to sign up, so I’m enjoying Christopher Hitchens memoir instead).

      • bigsigh

        Ok, so Ryan likes his plan. You don’t. I know, I know the CBO….blah, blah, blah. Got a better idea?