I’m sure I will have more to say when I get to read the whole thing in detail, but – at first blush – it’s not bothering me too much. That’s not because I favor one political side over the other. It’s because his plan matches a number of my own thoughts from last week:
Even forgetting that, there are lots of other ideas to reduce the deficit. Here are a few: Commit to a real phasedown in Iraq and Afghanistan. Allow the 2001/2003 tax cuts on the wealthy to expire. Consider re-instating some taxes on the wealthiest estates. Consider some of Austin’s competitive bidding strategies for health care financing reform. Incentivize private companies to help ferret out Medicaid and Medicare fraud. Seriously empower MEDPAC to recommend cuts to Medicare spending. Allow Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices. Engage in targeted reductions in discretionary spending, including subsidies to numerous industries and interest groups. Cut Pentagon spending according to recommendations from the defense department.
As far as I can tell, the President put forward the tax cut expirations, a strengthened Medicare advisory board, empowered Medicare price negotiating, some reductions in discretionary spending, and cuts to defense (although unspecificied). I’m sure some of you will declare me partisan for being harder on one plan than the other, but it’s hard to fault me for agreeing more with the President when he offers ideas I already favored.
Now, the devil’s in the details; and if they don’t go the way I hope then you will hear me say so. Moreover, none of this is to say that Rep. Ryan doesn’t have ideas worth considering. If he went back to supporting competitive bidding, we would be among the first to note it.