Rep. Paul Ryan to introduce alternative to health care and spending

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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Rep. Paul Ryan is re-introducing legislation in Congress today — amid criticism that his is ‘a party of no’ —  to offer Republican alternatives to health care and spending the same day President Barack Obama will deliver his State of the Union address to Congress.

Ryan, the House Budget Committee Ranking Republican and chief sponsor of the bill, said the legislation will “restore our long-held legacy of leaving the next generation of Americans better off.”

The legislation, “A Roadmap for America’s Future,” was initially introduced in 2008, yet the version introduced today “will reflect the dramatic decline in our nation’s economic and fiscal condition” since then, according to a release from Ryan’s office.

“Simply saying ‘no’ to the further government expansions – simply maintaining today’s ‘status quo’ – is no longer an option: our health care sector must be reformed; our economy needs sustained job creation and real growth; and we must tackle the greatest threat to our economic and fiscal future – the crushing debt burden driven by the unsustainable growth in entitlement spending,” Ryan said in a statement.

Highlights of the plan, according to the release:

Health Care
•    Provides a refundable tax credit — $2,300 for individuals and $5,700 for families — to purchase coverage in any state, and keep it with them if they move or change jobs.

•    Allows Medicaid recipients to take part in the same variety of options by using the tax credit to purchase high-quality care.

•    Establishes and fully funds Medical Savings Accounts for low-income beneficiaries to cover out-of-pocket costs, while continuing to allow all beneficiaries, regardless of income, to set up tax-free MSAs.

Social Security
•    Offers workers under 55 the option of investing over one third of their current Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts, similar to the Thrift Savings Plan available to federal employees.

Tax Reform
•    Provides taxpayers a choice of how to pay their income taxes – through existing law, or through a highly simplified income tax system that fits on a postcard with just two rates and virtually no special tax deductions, credits or exclusions (except the health care tax credit).

•    Promotes saving by eliminating taxes on interest, capital gains and dividends and eliminates the death tax.

Job Training
• Performance measures will be developed to make sure the 49 job training programs, scattered across eight federal agencies, will prepare the nation’s workforce for a global economy. States will also have more flexibility in determining how to allocate program funds.

The plan is fully detailed at www.americanroadmap.org.