Jon Ward reports on today's Budget Committee hearing, the first one chaired by Rep. Paul Ryan. The hearing was supposed to be about Obamacare, but Van Hollen, former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman, was intent on attacking Ryan's plan.
The attacks seem to have backfired:
Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the ranking Democrat from Maryland, went on the attack against committee chairman Paul Ryan’s “Road Map” plan, which is a long-term proposal to make entitlement spending solvent.
Van Hollen pressed Foster on whether Ryan’s plan would work, prompting Foster to point out that one of the biggest problems in health care now is that most new technology that is developed increases costs rather than decreasing it.
“If there’s a way to turn around the mindset for the people who do the research and development … to get them to focus more on cost-reducing tech and less on cost increasing technology, if you can do that then one of biggest components of [increasing costs] turns to your side,” Foster said. “If you can put that pressure on the research and development community, you might have fighting chance of changing the nature of new medical technology in a way that makes lower cost levels possible.”
Foster said: “The Road Map has that potential. There is some potential for the Affordable Care Act price reductions, though I’m a little less confident about that.”
Paul Ryan is preparing to take the reins of the House Budget Committee, where he'll play a key role in the debate over taxes and spending in the post-November 2 era. Here are some links to bring you up to speed on Ryan and his revolutionary Roadmap for America's Future:
Say you're a Midwestern Republican governor and likely presidential candidate looking to distinguish yourself from another Midwestern Republican governor and likely presidential candidate, Mitch Daniels of Indiana. How do you do it? Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty seems to think he's figured it out.
Yesterday the Senate voted 85-13 for John McCain's anti-VAT resolution. The lack of any substantial support for a VAT in the Senate would suggest that, even if the president's fiscal commission recommends such a tax when it reports in December, Ross Douthat is right and the chances a VAT will be imposed prior to the fiscal crisis are small. Whew.
The next time the United States hits a debt-to-GDP ratio of 100 percent or more, we will look much more like Greece in 2010 than the United States in 1945. That is, our government will be in a state of paralysis, the public-sector unions and pensioners will be in a state of hysteria, and defense spending will be only a few percentage points of GDP. Like Greece, we will be devoid of options. At that point, "inflating away the debt" will not be some mild, harmless act--it will require a virulent inflation and/or capital levy that wipes out the savings everyone except those who have found safe havens overseas.
My specific concern is nothing original: it’s just the national debt. Yawn and turn the page here if you’d like. We talk now of trillions, not yesterday’s hundreds of billions. It’s not Obama’s fault. He did what he had to do. However, Obama is president, and Democrats do control Congress. So it’s their responsibility, even if it’s not their fault. And no one in a position to act has proposed a realistic way out of this debt, not even in theory. The Republicans haven’t. The Obama administration hasn’t. Come to think of it, even Paul Krugman hasn’t. Presidential adviser David Axelrod, writing in The Washington Post, says that Obama has instructed his agency heads to go through the budget “page by page, line by line, to eliminate what we don’t need to help pay for what we do.” So they’ve had more than a year and haven’t yet discovered the line in the budget reading “Stuff We Don’t Need, $3.2 trillion.”
Paul Ryan's Roadmap for America's Future would drastically overhaul the American welfare state in a free-market direction. The Congressional Budget Office says it would solve the entitlements crisis through a series of changes to Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid. The Roadmap also includes a fundamental tax reform -- one that Ryan says, and the CBO assumes, would bring in revenues equivalent to the long-term historical average of 19-percent of GDP. Two new studies dispute that figure, however. I talked to Ryan this evening to get his response.