Two videos to help win the budget debate

It’s a testament to the slow witted nature of the Republicans that they haven’t found a way to run this ad across the country. It makes the case for cuts so clearly that only the most partisan person could deny its truth.

Let the sheer magnitude of the problem do the heavy lifting.

Next up, let’s give Paul Ryan the “Profiles in Political Courage” award for tackling Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. I don’t know how this all turns out, but I must say that it’s good to see Republican telling the truth.

Out of 535 people, how come there is only one Paul Ryan?

It’s disgusting that this nation is so devoid of leadership that there is only one person in Congress willing to stand up and say what needs to be said. I suppose Tom Coburn is the only other person I can think of with the decency to be this honest.

Paul Ryan’s Lonely Challenge

WASHINGTON — Paul Ryan, a six-term Republican congressman from Wisconsin who is the ranking minority member of the House Budget Committee, has yanked himself from obscurity by doing something no one else in Congress or apparently the White House has done: design a specific plan to control long-term government spending and budget deficits. That he stands virtually alone is a damning commentary on our politics.

Many public policy problems are genuinely hard. How to guarantee job creation? Provide financial stability? Improve inner-city schools? There are no panaceas. By contrast, solutions to the long-term budget imbalance are obvious: cut spending or raise taxes. Given the predictable retirement of baby boomers, it was no secret that promised government benefits would overwhelm the existing tax base. This problem could have been fixed.

It hasn’t because our political culture is so wedded to public opinion that it can’t (or won’t) govern. To govern is to choose, and our leaders recoil from unpopular choices. Americans want generous benefits and low taxes, so that’s what the system — led by either Democrats or Republicans — provides.

Ryan rejects this consensus [of waiting for someone else to tackle the problems later]. He would make choices now. Here are some features of his plan:

— Social Security: For those 55 or older today, the program would remain unchanged. For those younger, benefits would be reduced — with no cuts for the poorest workers. Workers 55 or younger in 2011 could establish individual investment accounts that would be funded with part of their payroll taxes. Government would guarantee a return equal to inflation.

— Medicare: Current recipients and those enrolling in the next decade would continue under today’s program, though wealthier recipients would pay somewhat higher premiums. In 2021, Medicare would become a voucher program for new recipients (those today 54 or younger). With vouchers, recipients would buy Medicare-certified private insurance. In today’s dollars, the vouchers would ultimately grow to $11,000. Eligibility ages for Medicare and Social Security would slowly increase toward 69 and 70, respectively.

— Spending Freeze: From 2010 to 2019, “non-defense discretionary spending” — about a sixth of the federal budget, including everything from housing to parks to education — would be frozen at 2009 levels.

— Simpler Taxes: Taxpayers could choose between today’s system or a streamlined replacement with no deductions and virtually no special tax breaks. Above a tax-free amount ($39,000 for a family of four), taxpayers would pay only two rates: 10 percent up to $100,000 for joint filers and 25 percent on income more than that.

It’s time to attack the benefits. Attack because they are unsustainable. Attack because this mania about retiring at 55 is insane, and always has been. Attack because the retirement age, at 62 OR 65 is unsustainable.

It’s time to “man-up” America. It’s time to elect and support the Paul Ryan’s in Congress and in our state houses. It’s time to individualize the welfare state.