Over the last week or so, Washington has been set ablaze with controversy over Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan’s latest proposition to save the federal budget for the next fiscal year. Drawing sharp criticism from both the left and the right, it seems highly unlikely that it shall ever even come close to being passed into law. Ryan’s ideas have become such a collective lighting rod not because they are, for the most part, inapplicable to the American financial sector; but because of their unrealistic stances on what have become the two indisputably untouchable programs on Capitol Hill — Medicare and Social Security.
As was rather bluntly laid out by Henry Blodget in Business Insider, under the Ryan plan, Medicare will be reformed to the extent that the elderly will receive a voucher for a healthcare policy of their choice from a private insurance company. This, in my opinion, at least, is not a bad idea at all. As a matter of fact, it is something which I would support under any other circumstances. The problem, however, arises a bit further down the line when Ryan’s budget calls for the disassociation of the vouchers’ values from the inevitably rising cost of insurance policies. This will save the Feds a great deal of money in the long run, but leave seniors with the responsibility of making up the balance. Such a thing, of course, would lead to massive fiscal meltdowns amongst the latter group, which would eventually trickle over to the rest of us as they would not contribute nearly as much to our nation’s economy as they do now, forcing small businesses to either face hardships or fail outright, which would, needless to say, leave millions unemployed.
And I will not even get started on the ludicrous nature of his raising the eligibility age for Social Security benefits, other than to say that, as United States citizens are left with no other option than to pay into the program, why should people under the age of fifty-five have to wait several additional years to retrieve their hard earned money? Are we in some sort of underclass compared to our older, and undoubtedly wiser, counterparts?
Of course not! This is the land of equal opportunity for all. If the age brackets in place are good enough for our elders of today, then they are most certainly good enough for us, too.
This does bring about the question, however, of how to secure funding for Medicare and Social Security during the years ahead. Something must be done; but what, exactly? The answer is very simple. Since these two programs’ inceptions during the New Deal era, the funds which their proceeds have set up have been pillaged by politicians on both sides of the partisan aisle. Beginning with Franklin Delano Roosevelt and continuing to Barack Obama, presidents and congresses have had absolutely no qualms about stealing the money of their constituents to fund everything from their respective pet projects to ill fated schemes such as Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society of the 1960s. Legislation must be passed which would make it illegal under any circumstances to use tax dollars collected for either Medicare or Social Security on anything other than those two specific programs. If this were to be done, the federal government’s fiscal house could be put in order and then, only then, should a national discussion on budgetary matters begin. We must reach Point A to arrive at Point B, and, quite frankly, both Congress and the President are not even one tenth of the way to the former.
How sad that is for their constituents, or, namely, us.