"Young Gun" Rep. Paul Ryan Lies About His "Roadmap For America's Future"

September 13, 2010 2:19 pm ET

In their new book Young Guns, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA), Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) repeatedly mislead readers on Republican policy proposals.  In his section of the book, Rep. Paul Ryan paints a deceptively rosy picture of his "Roadmap for America's Future." In reality, the plan will dismantle Social Security and Medicare, restrict access to health insurance, slash taxes for the wealthiest Americans, and raise taxes on working middle class families.

Claim: The Roadmap For America's Future Will "Secure The Future Of Social Security"

Rep. Paul Ryan:

Just days before, I had released my Roadmap for America's Future, a detailed blueprint for how we can bring spending under control, secure the future of Social Security and Medicare, and reclaim the American idea. [Young Guns, p 92]

Under the Roadmap's Social Security proposal, everyone fifty-five and older will remain in the existing program with no change. Those under fifty-five will choose either to stay with traditional Social Security, or to join a retirement system like Congress's own plan. They will be able to invest more than a third of their payroll taxes in their own savings account, guaranteed and managed by Social Security. For both Social Security and Medicare, eligibility ages will gradually increase, and the wealth will receive smaller benefit increases. [Young Guns, p 137]

The Roadmap plan shifts power to individuals at the expense of government control. It rejects cradle-to-grave welfare state ideas because they drain individuals of their self-reliance. And it still honors our historic commitment to strengthening the social safety net for those who need it most. [Young Guns, pp 137-138]

Fact: Rep. Ryan's "Roadmap" Would Dismantle Social Security

CBPP: Ryan's "Roadmap" Would Reduce Social Security Spending To Levels When Nearly Half Of Seniors Lived In Poverty. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: "Overall, the plan's cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security (and other programs to a much lesser degree) would be so severe that CBO estimates they would shrink total federal expenditures (other than on interest payments) from roughly 19 percent of GDP in recent years to just 13.8 percent of GDP by 2080.  Federal spending has not equaled such a low level of GDP since 1950, when Medicare and Medicaid did not yet exist, Social Security failed to cover many workers, and close to half of the elderly people in the United States lived below the poverty line." [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 7/7/10]

Washington Post: "Ryan's Budget Proposes Reforms That Are Nothing Short Of Violent." According to the Washington Post's Ezra Klein: "As you all know by now, the long-term budget deficit is largely driven by health-care costs. To move us to surpluses, Ryan's budget proposes reforms that are nothing short of violent. Medicare is privatized. Seniors get a voucher to buy private insurance, and the voucher's growth is far slower than the expected growth of health-care costs. Medicaid is also privatized. The employer tax exclusion is fully eliminated, replaced by a tax credit that grows more slowly than medical costs. And beyond health care, Social Security gets guaranteed, private accounts that CBO says will actually cost more than the present arrangement, further underscoring how ancillary the program is to our budget problem." [Washington Post, 2/1/10]

CBO: Rep. Ryan's "Roadmap" Would Privatizes Social Security. According to the Congressional Budget Office's analysis of Rep. Paul Ryan's "Roadmap for America's Future" budget proposal: "A system of individual accounts would be established in 2012. In that year, workers who are age 55 or younger would be able to participate in voluntary individual accounts, funded with a portion of their payroll taxes. As necessary, the government would make payments to account holders during their retirement to guarantee that their contributions earned a rate of return at least equal to the rate of inflation." [Congressional Budget Office, 1/27/10]

CBO: Rep. Ryan's "Roadmap" Would Cut Social Security Benefits.  According to the Congressional Budget Office's analysis of Rep. Paul Ryan's "Roadmap for America's Future" budget proposal: "Traditional retirement benefits would be reduced below those scheduled under current law for many workers who are age 55 or younger in 2011. People with lower earnings would experience smaller reductions in benefits, and those with higher earnings would experience larger reductions. Current beneficiaries and workers who are age 55 or older in 2010 would experience no change in benefits." [Congressional Budget Office, 1/27/10]

  • CBO: Private Social Security Accounts Would "Probably Also Increase The Economic Cost To The Government." According to the Congressional Budget Office: "Voluntary individual accounts would probably also increase the economic cost to the government relative to a plan similar to the Roadmap but without such accounts. People would tend to opt for individual accounts when it was in their economic interest to do so, which would be when the value of taxes redirected to individual accounts exceeded the present value of forgone Social Security benefits. The guarantee of a rate of return on contributions at least equal to the rate of inflation would also involve a cost to the government. Although the probability of the returns on equities and bonds falling short of inflation over a period as long as a worker's career is small, such an outcome would be more likely to occur during periods of economic stress, when resources were scarce and, hence, the guarantee most valuable." [Congressional Budget Office, 1/27/10]

Claim: The Roadmap For America's Future Will "Secure The Future" Of Medicare

Rep. Paul Ryan:

Just days before, I had released my Roadmap for America's Future, a detailed blueprint for how we can bring spending under control, secure the future of Social Security and Medicare, and reclaim the American idea. [Young Guns, p 92]

Everyone fifty-five and over will remain in the current Medicare program. For those now under fifty-five, Medicare will be like the health-care program we in Congress enjoy. Future seniors will receive a payment and pick an insurance plan from a diverse list of Medicare-certified plans - with more support for those with low incomes and higher health costs. To reform Medicaid, low-income people will receive the means to buy private health insurance like everyone else. [Young Guns, p 137]

The Roadmap plan shifts power to individuals at the expense of government control. It rejects cradle-to-grave welfare state ideas because they drain individuals of their self-reliance. And it still honors our historic commitment to strengthening the social safety net for those who need it most. [Young Guns, pp 137-138]

Fact: Rep. Ryan's "Roadmap" Would Dismantle Medicare

CBPP: "The Ryan Plan Would Eliminate Traditional Medicare, Most Of Medicaid." According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: "The Ryan plan would eliminate traditional Medicare, most of Medicaid, and all of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), converting these health programs largely to vouchers that low-income households, seniors, and people with disabilities could use to help buy insurance in the private health insurance market." [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 7/7/10]

CBO: Rep. Ryan's "Roadmap" Would Privatize Medicare. According to the Congressional Budget Office's analysis of Rep. Paul Ryan's "Roadmap for America's Future" budget proposal: "Starting in 2021, new enrollees would no longer receive coverage through the current program but, instead, would be given a voucher with which to purchase private health insurance.

  • In 2021, when enrollees would first receive the voucher, the average voucher for 65-year-olds would be worth $5,900 (in 2010 dollars), as specified by your staff.
  • The voucher would be adjusted to reflect the age and health status of enrollees. If all Medicare beneficiaries (including older people with higher average expenditures) were to receive a voucher in 2021, the average voucher amount would be $11,000 (in 2010 dollars)." [Congressional Budget Office, 1/27/10]

CBPP: By 2080, Ryan's Roadmap Would Cut Medicare By 76%. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: "Under Ryan's plan, the value of the vouchers would fall further behind the rising cost of health care with each passing year, so they would purchase less health coverage over time.  By 2080, Medicare would be cut 76 percent below its projected size under current policies, according to CBO.  In other words, by 2080, the vouchers that would replace Medicare would receive one-quarter of the resources that Medicare would otherwise use." [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 7/7/10]

CBO: Rep. Ryan's "Roadmap" Would Raise Medicare Premiums & Cut Benefits. According to the Congressional Budget Office's analysis of Rep. Paul Ryan's "Roadmap for America's Future" budget proposal: "People who are age 65 or older in 2020 and other existing enrollees at that time would continue to be covered by the current program, although some higher-income enrollees would pay higher premiums, and some program payments would be reduced." [Congressional Budget Office, 1/27/10]

CBO: Rep. Ryan's "Roadmap" Would Raise The Eligibility Age For Medicare. According to the Congressional Budget Office's analysis of Rep. Paul Ryan's "Roadmap for America's Future" budget proposal: "The age of eligibility for Medicare would increase incrementally from 65 (for people born before 1956), as it is under current law, to 69 years and 6 months for people born in 2022 and later." [Congressional Budget Office, 1/27/10]

Claim: The Roadmap For America's Future Will Secure "Universal Access To Quality, Affordable Health Coverage"

Rep. Paul Ryan:

A new Congress could start by making you the owner of your health plan. Under my Roadmap reform, a tax break that no benefits only those with job-based health insurance will be replaced by tax credits that benefit every American. And it secures universal access to quality, affordable health coverage with incentives that hold down health-care cost increases. [Young Guns, p 136]

Fact: The Tax Credits In Rep. Ryan's "Roadmap" Are Grossly Inadequate

Rep. Ryan's "Roadmap" Would Provide A $5,700 Tax Credit Per Family. According to the Congressional Budget Office's analysis of Rep. Paul Ryan's "Roadmap for America's Future" budget proposal: "In 2011, the current tax exclusion for employment-based health insurance would be replaced by a refundable tax credit for the purchase of health insurance, either through an employer or on an individual basis. The tax credit initially would be set at $2,300 per adult and $1,700 per child, not to exceed $5,700 per tax-filing unit." [Congressional Budget Office, 1/27/10]

  • Health Insurance Will Cost $25,000 Per Family By 2016.  According to the New America Foundation, under the current system of health care delivery in the United States, the full cost of an employer-based health plan for a family will be $24,291 by 2016.  [New America Foundation, The Cost of Doing Nothing, November 2008]

Fact: Under Rep. Ryan's "Roadmap," Health Care Costs Would Continue To Skyrocket, Footing Patients With The Bill

CBO: Health Care Costs Would Increase At Twice The Rate Of Rep. Ryan's Tax Credits. According to the Congressional Budget Office: The amounts of the Medicare voucher, the subsidy for low-income Medicare beneficiaries, the federal funding for Medicaid, and the tax credit for the purchase of health insurance would all be indexed to grow at a rate halfway between the general inflation rate, as measured by the consumer price index for all urban consumers (CPI-U), and the rate of price inflation for medical care, as measured by the consumer price index for medical care (CPI-M). Using that blended rate, CBO estimates that those amounts would increase at an average annual rate of 2.7 percent for the next 75 years,  in comparison with the average annual growth rate of nearly 5 percent that CBO expects for per capita national spending for health care under current law." [Congressional Budget Office, 1/27/10]

CBPP: Rep. Ryan's "Roadmap" Would "Reduce Or Eliminate" Pooled Risk, Doesn't Control Health Care Costs. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

The Ryan proposal thus would sharply reduce or eliminate all major forms of health insurance that spread risk by pooling healthy and less-healthy people together on a large scale.  It would do so without taking significant action to create viable new pooling arrangements.  Most Americans - including the poor and the elderly - would largely be left to purchase insurance on their own with a voucher or tax credit in an insurance market that would remain largely unreformed.  In particular, insurance companies could continue to charge people much higher premiums based on age, gender, or health status.  

The Ryan plan also largely lacks the kinds of provisions in the Senate- and House-passed health reform bills that are designed to slow health care cost growth by pushing health care providers to become more efficient and economical.  Under the Ryan plan, the burden of reducing health care expenditures would fall primarily on beneficiaries, who would face steadily rising health care costs with a steadily diminishing amount of health insurance and might therefore forgo needed health care. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 7/7/10]

Fact: Rep. Ryan's "Roadmap" Would Have Negative Effects On New Medical Technologies

CBO: The "Roadmap" Could Slow The "Rate Of Development And Spread Of New Medical Technologies." According to the Congressional Budget Office: "Over time, the comparison of the tax subsidies under the Roadmap's tax credit and under the current system would change because the amount of the tax credit would increase more slowly than health insurance costs under CBO's baseline. Because of the declining value of the credit relative to projected spending under the baseline, the proposal would probably affect the nature or comprehensiveness of health insurance plans that were purchased and the number of people purchasing insurance; it also could impose significant downward pressure on the rate of development and spread of new medical technologies and the growth of overall spending on health care." [Congressional Budget Office, 1/27/10]

Claim: The Roadmap For America's Future Will "Get This Economy Moving Again"

Rep. Paul Ryan:

The Roadmap also offers a better way to get this economy moving again. It offers taxpayers an option: either use the tax code we have today, or use a simple, low-rate, two-tier personal income tax that gets rid of loopholes and the double taxation of savings and investment. It also replaces corporate income taxes with a simple, competitive 8.5 percent business consumption tax. These low-rate and simple tax reforms would provide the certainty and the incentives for investors to open new enterprises and for workers to find a marketplace expanding in new jobs. [Young Guns, p 137]

Fact: Rep. Ryan's "Roadmap" Would Slash Taxes For The Wealthiest Americans

CBPP: Rep. Ryan's "Roadmap" Would Slash Taxes For The Wealthiest Americans By An Average Of $1.7 Million Per Year. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: "The tax cuts for those at the very top would be of historic proportions. A new analysis by the Urban Institute-Brookings Institution Tax Policy Center (TPC) finds:

  • The Ryan plan would cut in half the taxes of the richest 1 percent of Americans - those with incomes exceeding $633,000 (in 2009 dollars) in 2014.
  • The higher one goes up the income scale, the more massive the tax cuts would be. Households with incomes of more than $1 million would receive an average annual tax cut of $502,000.
  • The richest one-tenth of 1 percent of Americans - those whose incomes exceed $2.9 million a year - would receive an average tax cut of $1.7 million a year. These tax cuts would be on top of those that high-income households would get from making the Bush tax cuts, which are due to expire at the end of 2010, permanent." [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 7/7/10]

CBPP: Rep. Ryan's "Roadmap" Would "Give The Most Affluent Households A New Round Of Very Large, Costly Tax Cuts." According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: "The Roadmap would give the most affluent households a new round of very large, costly tax cuts by reducing income tax rates on high-income households; eliminating income taxes on capital gains, dividends, and interest; and abolishing the corporate income tax, the estate tax, and the alternative minimum tax." [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 7/7/10]

Fact: Rep. Ryan's "Roadmap" Would Raise Taxes On Middle-Class Working Families

CBPP: "About Three-Quarters Of Americans... Would Face Tax Increases." According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

To offset some of the cost of these massive tax cuts, the Ryan plan would place a new consumption tax on most goods and services, a measure that would increase taxes on most low- and middle-income families. [Tax Policy Center] finds that:

  • About three-quarters of Americans - those with incomes between $20,000 and $200,000 - would face tax increases. For example, households with incomes between $50,000 and $75,000 would face an average tax increase of $900. (These estimated changes in taxes are relative to the taxes that would be paid under a continuation of current policy - i.e., what tax liabilities would be if the President and Congress make permanent the expiring 2001 and 2003 tax cuts and relief from the alternative minimum tax.)
  • The plan would shift tax burdens so substantially from the wealthy to the middle class that people with incomes over $1 million would face much lower effective tax rates than middle-income families would. That is, they would pay much smaller percentages of their income in federal taxes." [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 7/7/10]

TPC: "The Roadmap's Tax Provisions Would Be Highly Regressive Compared With The Current Tax System." According to the Tax Policy Center: "The Roadmap's tax provisions would be highly regressive compared with the current tax system. Relative to current law-and assuming that taxpayers choose their preferred tax system-the Roadmap would reduce taxes for most people, but the largest reductions would go to those with the highest incomes. After-tax income would rise by 1.5 percent for households in the bottom quintile (the 20 percent with the lowest incomes) but change little for the next two quintiles and go up just 0.6 percent for the fourth quintile. In sharp contrast, the top quintile would see their after-tax income jump 11 percent. Within that group, the top 1 percent would gain an average of 26 percent and the top 0.1 percent a whopping 36 percent. The share of total taxes paid by the bottom 80 percent would rise from 35 percent to 42 percent, while the share paid by the top 1 percent would fall by nearly half from 25 percent to 13.5 percent." [Tax Policy Center, accessed 9/11/10]

Claim: The Roadmap For America's Future Would Stop "Offering Fiscal Fantasies"

Rep. Paul Ryan:

It's time politicians in Washington stopped patronizing the American people as if they were children. It's time we stop deferring tough decisions and promising fiscal fantasies. It's time we tell Americans the truth, offer them a choice, and count on them to do what's right. [Young Guns, p 138]

Fact: The CBO Analysis Of Rep. Ryan's So-Called Plan Didn't Take Into Account Falling Revenues

Rep. Paul Ryan promises that his Roadmap for America's Future would put the nation on the path toward fiscal health, yet when his office presented the plan to the Congressional Budget Office, it directed them to assume federal revenues would remain constant despite his extreme tax cuts for the wealthy.

CBO: Rep. Ryan's Staff Directed The CBO To Assume Future Tax Revenues Would "Equal" Current Projected Revenues. The proposal would make significant changes to the tax system. However, as specified by your staff, for this analysis total federal tax revenues are assumed to equal those under CBO's alternative fiscal scenario (which is one interpretation of what it would mean to continue current fiscal policy) until they reach 19 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2030, and to remain at that share of GDP thereafter. [Congressional Budget Office, 1/27/10]

TPC: "Federal Revenues Under The Roadmap Would Decline Substantially." According to the Tax Policy Center: "Federal revenues under the Roadmap would decline substantially as a percentage of GDP. Assuming taxpayers choose their preferred tax system, revenue would average 16.1 percent of GDP between fiscal years 2011 and 2015, rising to 16.6 percent by 2020, compared with 20.2 percent under CBO's January 2010 baseline. The fall in revenue would result primarily from the lower individual income tax rates and the exemption of capital income. If all taxpayers opted for the alternative system, revenues would increase to 16.8 percent by 2020." [Tax Policy Center, accessed 9/11/10]

CBPP: "CBO Did Not Find That The Ryan Plan Actually Would Achieve These Assumed Revenue Levels." According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

Assertions that the Ryan plan is fiscally responsible rest on a serious misunderstanding of a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of the plan. CBO only partially analyzed the Ryan plan. Contrary to some media reports, CBO has not prepared an actual cost estimate of it.

[...]

Instead, as its report states, CBO simply used an assumption specified by Rep. Ryan's staff that the overall level of revenues would remain unchanged from what the federal government would collect through 2030 under current policies, and would equal 19 percent of GDP in later years. CBO did not find that the Ryan plan actually would achieve these assumed revenue levels. [...]

The reality is different; TPC finds that the Ryan plan would result in very large revenue losses relative to current policies. TPC estimates that even with its middle-class tax increases, the plan would reduce federal revenues to 16 percent of GDP in 2014. Because the tax cuts for the wealthy would dwarf the tax increases for the middle class, the Ryan plan would allow the federal debt to continue growing for a number of decades to come, despite its steep cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 7/7/10]

Rep. Paul Ryan Attacks Democrats For Pursuing Unpopular Policies

Rep. Paul Ryan:

Our government is headed toward bankruptcy while our people are out of work. And for the last eighteen months it has been the Democrats' turn to drive us further toward the tipping point. The have done so in disregard -- actually in direct opposition -- to the will of the American people. They have done so arrogantly and undemocratically. And they have done so in defiance of their promises made to the American people. [Young Guns, p 134]

Fact: Rep. Ryan Pursues "Solutions" That Are Loathed By The American People

Poll: 68% Of Americans Oppose "Phasing Out" Social Security In Favor Of Private Accounts.  A poll conducted by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal found that 68% of Americans would be uncomfortable if a candidate for Congress "support[ed] phasing out Social Security and instead supports allowing workers to invest their Social Security contributions in the stock market." 49% of respondents reported the would be "very" uncomfortable, while 19% reported they would "have some reservations." Only 21% of respondents replied they would be "comfortable" or "enthusiastic" about such a stance. [NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 8/26-30/10]

Poll: 68% Of Americans Oppose Cutting Social Security And Medicare Benefits To Reduce The Deficit.  According to a Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research poll released on August 12, 2010, by 68% to 28%, Americans oppose reducing Social Security and Medicare benefits in order to decrease the deficit.

[GQRR poll via Campaign for America's Future, 8/12/10]

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