To the Editor:
I am hopeful that your reporting on the situation in Greece can help spur action here at home to avert our own debt crisis. Yet your recent front page story (5/12/10 - “Greece, Debt, and a Lesson”) provides a troubling reminder of why forging specific solutions remains so vexing, as David Leonhardt grossly mischaracterized what remains the only proposed solution to lift our crushing burden of debt. Leonhardt reports that my reform plan, A Roadmap for America’s Future, would “end Medicare for anyone now under 55 years old.” This is factually inaccurate.
Under my plan, Medicare would be reformed for those under 55 by slowing its projected explosion of growth, giving future beneficiaries the resources and choices they need to secure a plan for themselves, with additional assistance for those with greater needs. Under my plan, Medicare’s level of funding per beneficiary continues to grow every single year and Medicare outlays exceed $1 trillion dollars by 2022. Far from ending Medicare, my plan reforms the program to save it for future generations. In addition to irresponsible politicians continuing to make promises that cannot be kept, tackling our fiscal crisis must also overcome sloppy journalism that echoes factually incorrect partisan attacks. The continued demagoguery on entitlement reform exacerbates our plunge toward a debt crisis – the surest way to cripple our social safety net. We can – and we must – do better.
Wisconsin’s First District Congressman
Ranking Member House Budget Committee
20 South Main Street, #10
Janesville, WI 53545
There was a method to the Times madness in misrepresenting the changes to Medicare under Paul Ryan's Roadmap. Shocking, I know. The Times prefers to suggest to readers Democrats are more on track to solving US fiscal problems:
Democrats have more of a strategy — raising taxes on the rich and using health reform to reduce the growth of Medicare spending — but it is not nearly sufficient.No kidding the Democrats' strategy is not nearly sufficient. Nothing that has been done via health care is on track to reduce the growth of Medicare spending. Nothing. Every time we turn around, the CBO or outside sources point out the numbers used to sell health care were smoke and mirrors. More bluntly, they were full of lies the Times and other members of the media were only too happy to spread.
Raising taxes on the rich has met the same fate as all other Obama promises:
Is there no one at the Times capable of a Google search these days? Though Orszag's statements here are recent, he has been hinting at raised taxes for some time now. Paul Ryan's plan does not involve raising taxes, but it would require some pain, no doubt. The Times sees the solution in raising taxes, however, to keep the wonderful services citizens demand in a "richer" society:
“The president has been very clear about what he prefers,” Orszag said under questioning from Thomson Reuters’ Chrystia Freeland. “That was his stance during the campaign, and he still believes that’s the right course forward. But he has also been very clear that we shall let the commission go do its work.”Freeland followed up, asking if that means the White House might be open to the idea. “Perhaps here’s some give there?”“I don’t feel like I’m in a position to say that there will be any give there,” Orszag parried. “But the president has been very clear that the commission should go explore whatever options they all deem to be appropriate.”
As societies become richer, citizens tend to want better schools, better medical care and other government services. This country is following that pattern, but without paying the necessary taxes. That combination has us on a course to Greece-like debt.Maybe the Times should check the polls, no one was demanding that health care bill be passed but the cheer leading media, the left-wing of the Democratic party and those led to believe the whole thing was going to be free. No wonder people haven't been paying for the services we supposedly demand. Had the President been honest about the cost and "savings" of health care, Americans would have rejected the plan in even larger numbers. Were they rushing that bill through before the CBO numbers were properly evaluated because the true estimates would bolster support for the bill? I think not.
Still, as Ryan points out, the Times article serves to educate the public some painful choices will need to be made before we are forced, as Greece is, to make them in the heat of the crisis. The Democrats will see tax increases as the solution to pay for a large government. Conservatives, such as Ryan prefer downsizing the size of government and being honest with people about what changes need to be made to Medicare and Social Security to preserve the programs. Journalists concerned about the fiscal cliff we face as Americans might want to try something novel, stick to the facts when reporting the choices Americans will need to make.