The voices of Tax Policy Center's researchers and staff
Kudos to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the senior Republican on the House Budget Committee, for proposing an ambitious plan aimed at bringing government spending under control over the next 75 years. Actually, Ryan would do even more than that. He’d also restructure the tax code, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
Don’t get me wrong, I disagree with much of what Ryan would do. His plan, called the Roadmap for America’s Future, is mostly a litany of ideas that have gone nowhere over the past decade or so—Social Security private accounts, health savings accounts, and replacing the exclusion for employer sponsored health insurance with a tax credit to buy coverage in the private market. He’d also cap Medicare benefits, establish a Fred Thompson-like optional flat tax, and dump the current corporate income tax in favor of a business consumption tax. Overall, he says he’d slash projected government spending while freezing taxes at about 18.5% of Gross Domestic Product.
Parts of Ryan’s roadmap are little more than a series of right turns to nowhere, while other pieces make a lot of sense. But it isn’t the details that matter so much, it is that he has made the effort to develop a comprehensive fiscal plan. Of course, Ryan has an agenda. He is, after all, a politician. But, in the end, it is an agenda that aims to add up. It is not just a package of unfunded promises in the manner of the presidential candidates.
Ryan gets bonus points for being fairly specific, and he gives both supporters and critics plenty to chew over. Most important, though, by linking tax, spending, health, and retirement policy into a single package, Ryan gives us the chance to see how all these pieces fit together. Like his solutions or not, other pols could do a lot worse than try to put these difficult issues into a coherent framework.
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