By AUDREY SONNTAG
Medicare and Medicaid, which provide America’s elderly and poor with health care, are going to be drastically reduced if Republicans have anything to say about it. Led by Paul Ryan (R-WI), Republicans have recently pushed a budget bill through the House of Representatives that could significantly change the face of Medicare and Medicaid, and simultaneously extend Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy. They claim that $1 trillion would be saved based on their Medicaid reform.
However, if limits on itemized deductions for high-income taxpayers were eliminated the result would be $5.2 billion in revenue. Let us not forget the $8.9 billion in revenue the government could recover if mortgage interest on vacation homes were not deduced!
Now, for the math, $5.2 billion plus $8.9 billion is $14.1 billion, and that does not even take into account the other nine categories of tax cuts for the wealthy. There is no doubt that Republicans know these facts and yet they still choose to hurt the poor and help the rich. What is the motivation? Medicare and Medicaid are unsustainable in their current state, and too some extent Democrats agree.
As baby boomers are aging, Medicare feels the burden of carrying them through their later years. In light of that fact, President Barack Obama proposed to decrease spending in Medicare and Medicaid by $500 billion, as opposed to $1 trillion in Medicaid alone.
Paul Ryan fired back, condemning Obama for his idea to use a board within the government to determine how to cut costs for Medicare. However, any condemnation by Republicans concerning government control over Medicare could be considered hypocritical due to the nature of their plan: handing control of Medicare over to the private sector, while regulating prices would require a government mechanism of its own. Furthermore, the Republican plan sounds a lot like that Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which Republicans seem to despise so much.
Of course, hypocrisy does not matter when the Republicans have control of the House, but there is still the Senate where Democrats have the majority. Additionally, there may be some “nay” votes from Republicans in the Senate, just as there were in the House, where the vote split 235-193 with four Republicans voting no. The fact is that this issue does not reflect well on the collective Republican conscience. Sweet guilty dreams, Paul Ryan’s budget bill.