• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Representative Paul Ryan Gets It Right On Entitlement Reform

    It is all too common for members of Congress to recognize the problem with entitlement spending, talk about it, but then decide to kick the can down the road, leaving the toughest choices for future generations to make. But Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) has been a long-time advocate of paving a new road to ensure a sustainable fiscal future for the United States.

    On Thursday, Congressman Ryan spoke about the comprehensive proposals in his bill, “A Roadmap for America’s Future,” at the Tax Policy Center.

    Although the discussion centered primarily on the tax reforms in his proposal, Congressman Ryan made very clear to his audience Thursday what he sees as the primary challenge our country faces when he said “Entitlement reform is really the holy grail here.” He is right. Over the next few decades, the costs of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid will explode, causing debt to jump from 55 to 300 percent of GDP.

    As Ryan emphasized, tax increases are not sufficient nor are they necessary to close the gap between revenues and expenditures , adding later:

    “It is impossible, quite literally impossible, to chase that [expenditure] line. If we are going to try to tax our way out of our fiscal situation, tax our way out of our deficits and our debt, we will wreck the U.S. economy.”

    Ryan pointed to Europe’s slower growth, higher unemployment, and lower standard of living relative to the United States as a warning for policy-makers who support raising revenues to meet prohibitively high expenditures.

    Just how high would taxes have to go to pay for entitlements? The Congressional Budget Office sent Ryan a letter last year in which the CBO estimated “individual marginal tax rates for every bracket and corporate tax rates must more than double,” resulting in levels that “would significantly reduce economic activity” and “would probably not be economically feasible.”

    Instead of raising taxes, Congressman Ryan focuses on fundamentally restructuring entitlement programs, while maintaining the safety-net and the benefits of those enrolled in programs now, to bring federal expenditures down to historical average levels as a percentage of GDP. entitlements_05-580

    As Heritage Fellow J.D. Foster points out, “It’s time for all sides to join with Congressman Ryan and get serious about entitlement reform.” Regrettably, many on Capitol Hill are busy trying to make the problem worse by adding an additional entitlement that is sure to explode in cost like the others. It is not too late to address this problem, but every day that passes, the problem is getting worse. Congress should begin action now.

    Patrick O’Brien currently is a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. His views do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    11 Responses to Representative Paul Ryan Gets It Right On Entitlement Reform

    1. Cathy, WI says:

      Proud to be a fellow Wisconsinite with Paul Ryan.

    2. J.C. Hughes, Texas says:

      Why does defense show such a large cut? National security is the federal's primary, and as I firmly believe, sole constitutionally mandated role. If you truly want to drive down federal expenditures, hand all entitlement and welfare concerns over to the individual states where these programs rightfully belong. Congress needs to take a serious look at reforming itself. They should be downsizing rather than growing larger.

    3. J.C. Hughes, Texas says:

      Correction: Looked at the wrong line. This is why I prefer pie charts.

    4. J.C. Hughes, Texas says:

      My initial comment about entitlement and welfare programs belonging to and managed by individual states still stands. Federal tax revenue should be at 10% or less of GDP.

    5. Bobbie Jay says:

      Thank you, Representative, Ryan.

      It seems whatever hurts the most will be what's imposed. We need common sense, honesty and reasoning.

    6. Clint, Murray says:

      Not gonna happen Bobbie Jay. They can't think like that.

    7. fran campbellboca ra says:

      thank you mr ryan. we need you to do a thorough housecleaning. we need to get rid of many outdated bureaus and depts that serve no useful function. there needs to be sunset laws enacted. every welfare recipient must be examined thoroughly to ensure they are not part of the underground labor and barter crowd. the law passed to put alcoholics and drug addicts on social security and medicare as having a disability, needs to be looked into so that bartenders do not receive the s.s.a. check and then take their tab from it. welfare pedophiles do not need to get a monthly allotment of viagra from medicaid on our nickle. let the folks know that aid to families with dependent children afdc is funded by our social security taxes. we need to examine the 14th amendment and correctly interpret the constitutional amendment that conferred citizenship on emancipated slaves after the civil war. that is now bastardized to give the children of lawbreaking illegal immigrants american citizenship and full welfare benefits. the united states is the only birthright country in the world. why is it that an illegal act of entering the united states illegally goes unpunished and they are rewarded for life. in a few years we will lose our culture. we are as a country being destroyed from within by the progressives, socialists and communists who now hold office in governnment. the deal is–destroy what is and then build their form of utopia where everyone is totally equal except for the ruling class of government. folks who believe this need to visit russia and the eastern bloc countries they enslaved. even 10 years after communist fell–the countries are a ruin compared the the united states.

    8. Pingback: Rep. Ryan Presents Roadmap for a Sustainable Fiscal Future | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

    9. Pingback: Rep. Ryan Presents Roadmap for a Sustainable Fiscal Future | Step Down Obama

    10. Pingback: Rep. Ryan Presents Roadmap for a Sustainable Fiscal Future | Conservative Principles Now

    11. lisa harmon, Nixa MO says:

      Rep Ryan can't do it by himself. Getting enough congressmen together to actually do something requires the voters to be active enough to vote out anyone who doesn't quit playing the games. WE have to vote in people who are more concerned about their country than they are themselves or their party. If we want THEM to get off their duff, WE have to do it first.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.