Before the President delivered his much anticipated budget speech on Wednesday, my fellow GPP blogger asked, “Where are our leaders?” He’s right to ask the question, particularly after watching the President talk. For those looking for a detailed response to Cong. Paul Ryan’s budget plan, this was not the speech for you. The details were replaced with high-minded rhetoric about why government is needed to fix all of society’s ills and was basically just another campaign speech for Obama 2012.
The President also took the occasion to excoriate Mr. Ryan and his plan, claiming it will all but take food out of children’s mouths and kick grandma to the curb. Of course, Mr. Ryan graciously sat just a few feet away taking these blows because the President insisted he be there. And to think, this is the bipartisanship President Obama had in mind when he was talking about change.
Yesterday Mr. Ryan had a chance to respond to the President in the Washington Post. Here’s an excerpt:
“It [the GOP budget] offers a contrast in credibility. Unlike the president’s speech, which was rhetorically heated but substantively hollow, our budget contains specific solutions for confronting the debt and averting the most predictable crisis in our nation’s history. It also offers a contrast in visions. Unlike the speech, our budget advances a vision of America in which government both keeps its promises to seniors and lives within its means…
If you are someone who agrees with the president that we cannot avoid this outcome without resorting to large tax increases, know this: No amount of taxes can keep pace with the amount of money government is projected to spend on health care in the coming years. Medicare and Medicaid are growing twice as fast as the economy — and taxes cannot rise that fast without a devastating impact on jobs and growth.
If you believe that spending on these programs can be controlled by restricting what doctors and hospitals are paid, know this: Medicare is on track to pay doctors less than Medicaid pays, and Medicaid already pays so little that many doctors refuse to see Medicaid patients. These arbitrary cuts not only fail to control costs, they also leave our most vulnerable citizens with fewer health-care choices and reduced access to care.
And if you believe that we must eliminate waste, fraud and abuse in these programs, know this: Eliminating inefficient spending is critical, but the only way to do so is to reward providers who deliver high-quality, low-cost health care, while punishing those who don’t. Time and again, the federal government has proved incapable of doing that.”
Well said, Mr. Ryan. Now if only the President and Democrats would join the conversation.