Certainly not. Aside from their policy content, programs like Medicare and Medicaid express something about American culture: The well-being of the most vulnerable is a high priority. But Romney’s newly minted VP candidate made his name attempting to thrash said imperative. He originally pushed for the dismantling of Social Security, but has since revised his budget, making Medicare one of his salient targets.
The Ryan plan eliminates the current Medicare program, and replaces it with a “premium support” system that “shifts substantial costs to beneficiaries.” Senior citizens would be given subsidies that they can use to purchase insurance from private providers. But these subsidies will be far outstripped by rising healthcare costs, making federal expenditures on new beneficiaries (once the program is fully in place) $5,900 to $8,000 a year.
To put this in perspective: The median income for those households currently on Medicare is about $25,000 a year. And Ryan’s proposal “would likely impose particularly heavy burdens on low-income beneficiaries in poor health.”
The Congressional Budget Office, in a March 2012 report on the long-term budgetary impact of Ryan’s plan, said that its consequences would be:
reduced access to health care; diminished quality of care; increased efficiency of health care delivery; less investment in new, high-cost technologies; or some combination of those outcomes. In addition, beneficiaries might face higher costs, which could in turn reinforce some of the other effects.
Also, policy analysts have shown that even with increased efficiency, seniors would still pay a lot more.
Moreover, CBPP estimates that the plan would dramatically increase economic inequality (for millionaires, average after-tax income would increase by 12.5 percent; for middle income Americans, just 1.8 percent). This seems evident, given that the Ryan budget gets 62% of non-defense budget cuts from programs for low-income Americans.
To punctuate, Nobel laureate Paul Krugman wrote that Ryan’s ‘Path to Prosperity’ had:
inconceivably cruel priorities, the way it slashes taxes for corporations and the rich while drastically cutting food and medical aid.
Is this really the America we want to build?