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Ryan Answers His Critics

6:21 PM, Apr 6, 2011 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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In an interview, Time magazine's Jay Newton-Small presses Paul Ryan on some criticism his budget has received from the left. For example, The New Republic's Jonathan Chait writes that the "Achilles Heel" of Ryan's plan is that it cuts Medicare for future beneficiaries in order to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy. Here's Ryan's response:

Some liberal bloggers have been saying that your plan would shift the tax burden off of the rich.


There's no way of knowing that until you actually see the tax bill that [Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave] Camp would write. First of all, the commission basically did the same thing and they argue that it's distributionally neutral. So we could just do the commission framework and it'd be distributionally neutral. You've got to remember that the high-income earners are the people who enjoy the deductions. People who itemize their tax returns are the people in the top two tax brackets. You take away that, you're raising their taxes. You lower the rates in exchange and it's a wash, depending on how much you do in broadening and lowering. So, that's unknown. Ways and Means will have to fill in those details. But this framework could still clearly result in a distributionally neutral tax system.

Ryan has also been accused of hypocrisy for keeping Obamacare's cuts to Medicare Advantage while repealing the rest of the health care law. His defense is that the GOP takes that money and "rededicates[s] it to Medicare to extend its solvency instead of paying" for a new entitlement (his budget does get rid of the unelected Medicare-rationing board): 

Your plan claims $1.4 trillion in savings from repealing the Democrats' health reform law. How did you calculate that figure?


The way the Medicare policy in Obamacare works in they take money from Medicare and then use it to spend on this other government program. So they raided Medicare to pay for this other government program. We keep those Medicare savings but we dedicate them to Medicare. So we get rid of the IPAB, the independent medical advisory board, because we think that that's really bad policy. But we keep the Medicare savings and rededicate it to Medicare to extend its solvency instead of paying for this other thing. So, if you keep the Medicare savings and repeal all the Obamacare spending that gives you the $1.4 trillion number. CBO says that if you get rid of Obamacare and you get rid of the $682 billion in Medicare savings, meaning spend it back, and do this then it costs you money. So, we repealed it in a way that it doesn't cost us money. We stopped the raid of Medicare money and redirected it back to Medicare and it extends the Medicare solvency.

Read the full interview here.

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