Romney-Ryan: The GOP's Ticket to Slashing The Nation's Social Safety Net
Interview with Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, conducted by Scott Harris
When presumed Republican Party presidential nominee Mitt Romney announced his pick of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate on Aug. 11, much of the media coverage focused on the choice as a possible catalyst that could move the country toward a substantive national debate on the future of Medicare and other social safety net programs. As House Budget chairman, Ryan was the architect of a 2011 budget plan that would have made dramatic cuts to funding for education, Head Start, aid to college students and other vital social programs, while simultaneously providing ever larger tax cuts to the nation’s wealthiest citizens. But perhaps Ryan’s best-known signature policy proposal was to end the Medicare program as the nation has known it since its establishment in 1965. Under Ryan’s plan, Medicare would move to a voucher program, offering seniors a limited amount of money to shop for private health insurance, while shifting the burden of thousands of dollars of additional health care costs onto the elderly the program serves. Under the current Medicare system, the government directly pays doctors, hospitals and other health care providers.