Seemingly pushed under the news cycle radar as stealth as ninjas in the night, the House of Representatives approved Budget Committee Chair Rep. Paul Ryan’s $3.5 Trillion budget cut proposal bill. Despite that, you will be hard pressed to find a Republican member of Congress or a GOP presidential candidate to come out and support it. For a number of reasons, Ryan’s bill is like electoral kryptonite – it is 2012, after all. It’s an election year for all members of the House and very few would want to go on the record of supporting a plan that will essentially alter Medicare as we know it.
You can imagine what the senior vote is going to look like in November. If any candidate wishes to win that crucial swing state of Florida which many have said will play a very critical role in selecting the winner in the 2012 presidential races, they better not mess with Medicare. Florida has the highest proportion of Americans over the age of 65 than any other state in the union and many of those rely on Medicare as they know it.
Still, by a vote of 228 to 191, no Democrats voted in favor of the budget proposal and 10 Republicans voted against it.
The Ryan plan would give seniors the choice to opt into traditional Medicare coverage or elect to purchase a private plan via various subsidies. It would also block grant services like welfare and food stamps to the states.
Interestingly enough, on the heels of the Ryan plan introduction last week, a YouGov/Economist poll released to Politic365 found that 60% of Americans feel that Blacks “should help themselves.”
“The public favors individual effort to move African-Americans up the economic scale,” said Thom Riehle of YouGov. “[Most] believe that blacks should follow the example of other immigrants and work their way up the economic ladder, with no special help.”
It may signal the very polarized rhetoric expected in this year’s heated Presidential election, as Republican primary candidates play fire with racially-tinged themes such as Newt Gingrich’s “food stamp president” and Rick Santorum calling the president “a snob” for wanting all eligible graduating high school students to go to college.
And even though the Ryan budget calls for repealing Obama’s Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), it offers nothing in its place, leaving Americans without affordable healthcare from their employers – again without any option.
While not raising any revenue through taxes, Ryan’s plan concurrently reduces spending (except entitlement spending on Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid) to 6.75% in 2023, and 3.75% in 2023 from 12.5%. Food stamps and jobless benefits would be on the chopping block, much to the chagrin of Democrats, liberals and other groups who say it forces the poor and elderly to shelter the burden of fixing the deficit while giving the rich a pass.
Still, few observers believe this will pass the Democratic-dominated Senate.