Full Text Campaign Buzz November 5, 2012: Mitt Romney Op-ed: Romney Shares His “Vision for America”




Op-Ed: Mitt Romney Shares His “Vision for America”

Source: Mitt Romney, ABC News, 11-5-12

PHOTO: Romney speaks to Latino voters in Florida.

Tomorrow is Election Day. The closing hours of a campaign have a dynamic of their own. Many voters have known for some time who they will vote for. Others are just now putting aside the demands of daily life and considering how their vote will affect their lives, the lives of their children, and the course of the country we love.

We ask you to look beyond the speeches and the attacks and the ads. Look to the record, the accomplishments and failures, and the judgment. Words are cheap. A record is real and earned with effort. Change cannot be measured in speeches; it is measured in achievements.

Four years ago, candidate Obama promised to do so very much, but he has fallen so very short. He promised to be a “post-partisan president” but he became the most partisan– blaming, attacking, dividing. He was going to focus on creating jobs. Instead, he focused on Obamacare, which killed jobs. He said he was going to cut the federal deficit by half; then he doubled it.

He said that the unemployment rate would now be 5.2 percent; on Friday we learned that it is 7.9 percent — it is 9 million jobs short of what he promised. Americans of Hispanic descent have been hit particularly hard by the President’s failure to get our economy growing again. For the most part of Mr. Obama’s presidency, the unemployment rate among Hispanics has remained at or near 10 percent. That is unacceptable.

President Obama promised change, but he could not deliver it. I promise change, and I have a record of achieving it.

I built a business, and turned around another. I helped put an Olympics back on track. And with a Democrat legislature, I helped turn my state from deficit to surplus, from job losses to job growth, and from higher taxes to higher take-home pay.

This is why I am running for president. I know how to change the course the nation is on, how to get us to a balanced budget and how to build jobs and rising take-home pay. Accomplishing real change is not something I just talk about — it is something I have done. And it is what will do when I am President of the United States.

People across the country are responding to our comprehensive plan to create jobs. Among the things I intend to do is to boost trade, especially with Latin America. I will ask Congress for Trade Promotion Authority, a power every president has used or requested since it was first created in 1974, with the exception of President Obama.

Hispanic Americans are a major force in small business, which is itself the biggest driver of employment in our country. I intend to launch a sweeping review of all Obama-era regulations with an eye to eliminating or repairing those that are killing jobs and hurting small businesses. Every Hispanic small-business person and every job creator will know that for the first time in four years, the government of the United States likes business and loves the jobs and higher wages business brings to our fellow Americans.

I will work day and night to ensure that Hispanic children have access to a great education, affordable college, and a good paying job after graduation. I will reform Medicare and Social Security so that it doesn’t fail this or future generations. l will grant you control of your healthcare decisions, not a bunch of bureaucrats in Washington. And I will achieve what President Obama promised you but did not even try to deliver — a bipartisan agreement on immigration reform.

We are one day away from a fresh start. One day away from the first day of a new beginning. If there is anyone worried the last four years are the best we can do, if there is anyone who fears that the American Dream is fading away, if there is anyone who wonders whether better jobs and better paychecks are things of the past, I have a clear and unequivocal message: with the right leadership, America will come roaring back.

Americans don’t settle. We build, we aspire, we listen to that voice inside that says, “We can do better.” A better job; a better life for our children; a bigger, better country.

The door to a brighter future is there, open, waiting for us. I need your vote, I need your help. Walk with me, walk together. Let us start anew.

Full Text Campaign Buzz November 5, 2012: Barack Obama Op-ed: “The America We Believe in Is Within Our Reach.”




Obama: “The America We Believe in Is Within Our Reach.”

Source: Barack Obama, ABC News, 11-5-12

PHOTO: President Barack Obama waves to supporters as members of the Mexican Rock band Mana walk off stage during a campaign event.

President Barack Obama waves to supporters as members of the Mexican Rock band Mana walk off stage during a campaign event in Desert Pines High School, Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012 in Las Vegas. Mana performed at Obama?s campaign stop in Las Vegas,… (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo) View Full Caption

For the past few days, all of us have been properly focused on one of the worst storms of our lifetimes. We mourn those who were lost. And we pledge to stand with those whose lives have been turned upside down for as long as it takes them to recover and rebuild.

Because when hardship hits, America is at its best. The petty differences that consume us in normal times quickly melt away. There are no Democrats or Republicans during a storm – only fellow Americans. That’s how we get through the most trying times: together.

That spirit has guided this country along its improbable journey for more than two centuries, especially as a nation of immigrants. People have come to America from all over the world, willing to take risks, build their dreams and make sure their kids can dream even bigger. It’s that spirit that’s carried us through the last four years.

Four years ago, we were mired in two wars and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Together, we’ve battled our way back. The war in Iraq is over, Osama bin Laden is dead, and our heroes are coming home. Our businesses have created more than 5 million new jobs in the last two and half years. Home values and 401(k)s are rising. We are less dependent on foreign oil than at any time in the last 20 years. And the American auto industry is back.

We’re not there yet. But we’ve made real progress. And on Tuesday, all Americans will get to choose between two fundamentally different visions of what makes America strong.

I believe America’s prosperity was built on the strength of our middle class. We don’t succeed when a few at the top do well while everyone else struggles to get by – we’re better off when everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules.

When Bill Clinton was president, he believed that if America invested in the skills and ideas of its people, good jobs and businesses would follow. His economic plan asked the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more so we could reduce our deficit and still invest in job training and education, research and technology, better health care and a dignified retirement. And what happened? By the end of his second term, our economy created 23 million new jobs. Incomes rose. Poverty fell. Deficits became the biggest surplus in history.

The path Governor Romney offers is the one we tried for eight years after President Clinton left office – a philosophy that says those at the very top get to play by a very different set of rules than everyone else. Bigger tax cuts for the wealthy that we can’t afford. Encouraging companies to ship jobs and profits overseas. Fewer rules for big banks and insurance companies. Vetoing the DREAM Act and making life so miserable for undocumented workers that they’d “self deport.” They’re the policies that caused this mess in the first place.

In the closing weeks of this campaign, Governor Romney has started calling himself an agent of change. And I’ll give him one thing – offering another $5 trillion tax cut weighted towards the wealthy, $2 trillion in defense spending our military didn’t ask for and more power for big banks and insurance companies is change, all right. But it’s not the change we need.

We know what real change looks like. And we can’t give up on it now.

Change is an America where people of every age have the skills and education that good jobs require. We took on banks that had been overcharging for student loans for decades, and made college more affordable for millions of students, including Latinos. Now we’ll recruit 100,000 math and science teachers so that high-tech, high-wage jobs don’t end up in China, and train 2 million workers at community colleges for the skills local businesses need right now.

Change is an America that’s home to the next generation of manufacturing and innovation. I’m not the candidate who said we should “let Detroit go bankrupt,” I’m the president who bet on American workers and American ingenuity. Now I want a tax code that stops rewarding companies that ship jobs overseas, and starts rewarding companies that create jobs here; one that stops subsidizing oil company profits, and keeps supporting clean energy jobs and technology that will cut our oil imports in half. That’s how we create jobs and support the entrepreneurial spirit of Latino workers and small businesses.

Change is an America where we lift the shadow of deportation hanging over millions of people and help them earn their citizenship. We proposed a change in our laws to cut the red tape so U.S. citizens aren’t unfairly separated from loved ones while waiting for a green card. Then, instead of waiting for Congress to act, I took action so that patriotic young people who are Americans in every way except on paper no longer have to fear being deported. But this is not a permanent solution, so I will continue to work with anyone in Congress to pass the DREAM Act and enact comprehensive immigration reform to create a legal immigration system that rewards hard work and demands responsibility.

Change is an America that turns the page on a decade of war to do some nation-building here at home. So long as I’m commander-in-chief, we’ll pursue our enemies with the strongest military in the world. But it’s time to use the savings from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to pay down our debt and rebuild America – our roads and bridges and schools.

Change is an America where we reduce our deficit by cutting spending where we can, and asking the wealthiest Americans to go back to the income tax rates they paid when Bill Clinton was president. I’ve worked with Republicans to cut a trillion dollars of spending, and I’ll do more. I’ll work with anyone of any party to move this country forward. But I won’t agree to eliminate health insurance for millions of poor, elderly, or disabled on Medicaid, or turn Medicare into a voucher just to pay for another millionaire’s tax cut.

The folks at the very top don’t need another champion in Washington. The people who need a champion in Washington are the Americans whose letters I read at night; the men and women I meet on the trail every day. The cooks and cleaning staff working overtime at a Las Vegas hotel. The furniture worker retraining for a career in biotechnology at age 55. The teacher who’s forced to spend less time with each student in her crowded classroom. The DREAMer who dreams of becoming something great. Every Latino small business owner trying to expand and do right by his or her employees – all of these Americans need a champion in Washington.

When these Americans do well, America does well. That’s the change we need right now. It’s time to finish what we’ve started – to educate our kids, train our workers, create new jobs, new energy, and new opportunity – to make sure that no matter who you are, where you come from, or how you started out, this is the country where you can make it if you try.

The America we believe in is within our reach. The future we hope for is within our sights. That’s why I’m asking for your vote this Tuesday.

Full Text Campaign Buzz November 5, 2012: Mitt Romney’s Op-ed in USA Today: “We Need A New Beginning”




Mitt Romney: “We Need A New Beginning”

Source: Mitt Romney Press, 11-5-12
We Need A New Beginning
USA Today
Mitt Romney

November 5, 2012

This presidential campaign has allowed me to travel to every corner of the country and listen to the hopes and concerns of people of every class, race and background. It has reaffirmed to me what an extraordinarily impressive, resilient and compassionate country America is. But it has also reinforced in me the belief that America is facing serious challenges and in need of serious change.

We are at a turning point. The decision we make on Tuesday will affect not only us but also generations yet to be born. President Obama and I offer fundamentally different visions about the size, cost, reach and role of the federal government. And this election will determine our policies on job growth and debt, on whether our standard of living rises or falls, and whether we have unity at home.

We can do better

Four years ago, we were promised a new beginning — but it turned out to be false start. President Obama is a well-intentioned man whose policies have manifestly failed. Under his stewardship, we’ve seen a historically weak economic recovery, chronically high unemployment, falling household incomes, rising health care and tuition costs, a record number of Americans in poverty and on food stamps, record deficits, and a national debt that threatens to bury our future. President Obama calls this a recovery. Most Americans consider it a disaster.

Fortunately we still have time, though not much time, to change course. We need a new direction — and that requires a new president.

Based on a lifetime in the private sector, as head of the Olympics and as a governor, I know how to fix things that are broken and turn institutions around. I have a five-point plan that will put America back on the path of economic growth and fiscal responsibility.

Part one will bring us to North American energy independence by 2020. Part two will open new markets for American goods and ensure that we trade on a level playing field; the days of China’s cheating will be numbered. Part three will transform our educational system so that Americans can gain the skills required for success in the 21st century. Part four will cut the deficit, get the national debt under control and pare back our overgrown federal government. Part five will empower small business, the central engine of job creation in this country.

Real jobs, real growth

During my presidency, America will create 12 million new jobs, raise take-home pay and get the economy growing at an average rate of 4% a year, more than double this year’s rate.

Animating these policies is an unshakable commitment to help improve individual American lives — the unemployed single mother, the struggling middle-class family, the wounded veteran, the senior citizen who relies on Medicare.

But it’s the nature of our political system that we can’t achieve large and lasting change unless people in Washington put aside pettiness and bickering and work together. That is one of the largest failures of the past four years. As governor of Massachusetts, I worked with a legislature that was 85% Democratic to implement good ideas. And what I did for Massachusetts, I will do for America. I’ll work with Republicans and Democrats to advance reforms that meet the challenges of our time.

On Nov. 6, we can begin to build shared prosperity that touches every corner of our country. We can experience unity as a nation. And we can begin to write great new chapters in the American story.

I’m prepared for this moment, and I am ready to lead this nation. But I need your vote, because there is an economy to revive, and dreams to build, and great work to be done.

Full Text Obama Presidency March 14, 2012: President Barack Obama & UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s Washington Post Op-Ed — An alliance the world can count on




Op-Ed by President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron: An alliance the world can count on

Joint Op-Ed by President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron

The following Op-Ed by President Barack Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom appeared in the Washington Post today. It can be found online HERE.

An alliance the world can count on
By Barack Obama and David Cameron

Seven decades ago, as our forces began to turn the tide of World War II, Prime Minister Winston Churchill traveled to Washington to coordinate our joint efforts. Our victories on the battlefield proved “what can be achieved by British and Americans working together heart and hand,” he said. “In fact, one might almost feel that if they could keep it up, there is hardly anything they could not do, either in the field of war or in the not less tangled problems of peace.”

Keep it up we have — not only winning that war for our survival but also building the institutions that undergird international peace and security. The alliance between the United States and Great Britain is a partnership of the heart, bound by the history, traditions and values we share. But what makes our relationship special — a unique and essential asset — is that we join hands across so many endeavors. Put simply, we count on each other and the world counts on our alliance.

As leading world economies, we are coordinating closely with our G-8 and G-20 partners to put people back to work, sustain the global recovery, stand with our European friends as they resolve their debt crisis and curb the reckless financial practices that have cost our taxpayers dearly. We’re committed to expanding the trade and investment that support millions of jobs in our two countries.

As the two largest contributors to the international mission in Afghanistan, we’re proud of the progress our troops have made in dismantling al-Qaeda, breaking the Taliban’s momentum and training Afghan forces. But as recent events underscore, this remains a difficult mission. We honor the profound sacrifices of our forces, and in their name we’ll carry on the mission.

Over the next few days, we will consult about preparations for the NATO summit in Chicago, where our alliance will determine the next phase of the transition that we agreed to in Lisbon. This includes shifting to a support role in advance of Afghans taking full responsibility for security in 2014 and ensuring that NATO maintains an enduring commitment so that Afghanistan is never again a haven for al-Qaeda to launch attacks against our citizens.

As members of the international community, we have been united in imposing tough sanctions on the Iranian regime for failing to meet its international obligations. We believe there is time and space to pursue a diplomatic solution, and we are coordinating our diplomatic approach with China, France, Germany and Russia, our P5+1 partners. Meanwhile, as the United States imposes its strongest sanctions to date and the European Union prepares to impose an embargo on Iranian oil, the choice for Tehran will be sharpened — meet your international obligations or face the consequences.

As two nations that support the human rights and dignity of all people, we continue to stand with those brave citizens across the Middle East and North Africa who are demanding their universal rights. Having joined in the mission to protect the Libyan people last year, we support Libyan efforts to build democratic institutions and hold free and fair elections this year. We condemn the Syrian regime’s horrific violence against innocent civilians, and we are focused on the urgent humanitarian task of getting food and medicine to those in need. With our international partners, we’ll continue to tighten the noose around Bashar al-Assad and his cohorts, and we’ll work with the opposition and the United Nations-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan to plan for the transition that will follow Assad’s departure from power.

As two of the world’s wealthiest nations, we embrace our responsibility as leaders in the development that enables people to live in dignity, health and prosperity. Even as we redouble our efforts to save lives in Somalia, we’re investing in agriculture to promote food security across the developing world. We’re working to improve maternal health and end preventable deaths of children. With a renewed commitment to the lifesaving work of the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria, we see the beginning of the end of the AIDS pandemic. Through our Open Government Partnership, we’re striving to make governments more transparent and accountable.

Finally, as two peoples who live free because of the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, we’re working together like never before to care for them when they come home. With new long-term collaborations to help our wounded warriors recover, assist in veterans’ transition back to civilian life and support military families, we recognize that our obligations to troops and veterans endure long after today’s battles end.

Our troops and citizens have long shown what can be achieved when British and Americans work together, heart and hand, and why this remains an essential relationship — to our nations and the world. So like generations before us, we’re going to keep it up. Because with confidence in our cause and faith in each other, we still believe that there is hardly anything we cannot do.

Barack Obama is president of the United States. David Cameron is prime minister of Great Britain.

Campaign Buzz October 25, 2011: Republican Presidential Candidate Gov. Rick Perry Previews “Cut, Balance and Grow” Flat Tax plan in Wall Street Journal Op-ed




Rick Perry: My Tax and Spending Reform Plan

Individuals will have the option of paying a 20% flat-rate income tax and I’ll cap spending at 18% of GDP.

Source: WSJ, 10-25-11

The folks in Washington might not like to hear it, but the plain truth is the U.S. government spends too much. Taxes are too high, too complex, and too riddled with special interest loopholes. And our expensive entitlement system is unsustainable in the long run.

Without significant change quickly, our nation will go the way of some in Europe: mired in debt and unable to pay our bills. President Obama and many in Washington seem unable or unwilling to tackle these issues, either out of fear of alienating the left or because they want Americans to be dependent on big government.

On Tuesday I will announce my “Cut, Balance and Grow” plan to scrap the current tax code, lower and simplify tax rates, cut spending and balance the federal budget, reform entitlements, and grow jobs and economic opportunity.

The plan starts with giving Americans a choice between a new, flat tax rate of 20% or their current income tax rate. The new flat tax preserves mortgage interest, charitable and state and local tax exemptions for families earning less than $500,000 annually, and it increases the standard deduction to $12,500 for individuals and dependents.

This simple 20% flat tax will allow Americans to file their taxes on a postcard, saving up to $483 billion in compliance costs. By eliminating the dozens of carve-outs that make the current code so incomprehensible, we will renew incentives for entrepreneurial risk-taking and investment that creates jobs, inspires Americans to work hard and forms the foundation of a strong economy. My plan also abolishes the death tax once and for all, providing needed certainty to American family farms and small businesses.

My plan restores American competitiveness in the global marketplace and provides strong incentives for U.S.-based employers to build new factories and create thousands of jobs here at home.

First, we will lower the corporate tax rate to 20%—dropping it from the second highest in the developed world to a rate on par with our global competitors. Second, we will encourage the swift repatriation of some of the $1.4 trillion estimated to be parked overseas by temporarily lowering the rate to 5.25%. And third, we will transition to a “territorial tax system”—as seen in Hong Kong and France, for example—that only taxes in-country income.

The mind-boggling complexity of the current tax code helps large corporations with lawyers and accountants devise the best tax-avoidance strategies money can buy. That is why Cut, Balance and Grow also phases out corporate loopholes and special-interest tax breaks to provide a level playing field for employers of all sizes.

To help older Americans, we will eliminate the tax on Social Security benefits, boosting the incomes of 17 million current beneficiaries who see their benefits taxed if they continue to work and earn income in addition to Social Security earnings.

We will eliminate the tax on qualified dividends and long-term capital gains to free up the billions of dollars Americans are sitting on to avoid taxes on the gain.

All of these tax cuts will be meaningless if we do not control federal spending. Last year the government spent $1.3 trillion more than it collected, and total federal debt now approaches $15 trillion. By the end of 2011, the Office of Management and Budget expects the gross amount of federal debt to exceed the size of America’s entire economy for the first time in over 65 years.

Under my plan, we will establish a clear goal of balancing the budget by 2020. It will be an extremely difficult task exacerbated by the current economic crisis and our need for significant tax cuts to spur growth. But that growth is what will get us to balance, if we are willing to make the hard decisions of cutting.

We should start moving toward fiscal responsibility by capping federal spending at 18% of our gross domestic product, banning earmarks and future bailouts, and passing a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. My plan freezes federal civilian hiring and salaries until the budget is balanced. And to fix the regulatory excess of the Obama administration and its predecessors, my plan puts an immediate moratorium on pending federal regulations and provides a full audit of all regulations passed since 2008 to determine their need, impact and effect on job creation.

ObamaCare, Dodd-Frank and Section 404 of Sarbanes-Oxley must be quickly repealed and, if necessary, replaced by market-oriented, common-sense measures.

America must also once and for all face up to entitlement reform. To preserve benefits for current and near-term Social Security beneficiaries, my plan permanently stops politicians from raiding the program’s trust fund. Congressional IOUs are no substitute for workers’ Social Security payments. We should use the federal Highway Trust Fund as a model for protecting the integrity of a pay-as-you-go system.

Cut, Balance and Grow also gives younger workers the option to own their Social Security contributions through personal retirement accounts that Washington politicians can never raid. Because young workers will own their contributions, they will be free to seek a market rate of return if they choose, and to leave their retirement savings to their dependents when they die.

Fixing America’s tax, spending and entitlement cultures will not be easy. But the status quo of byzantine taxes, loose spending and the perpetual delay of entitlement reform is a recipe for disaster.

Cut, Balance and Grow strikes a major blow against the Washington-knows-best mindset. It takes money from spendthrift bureaucrats and returns it to families. It puts fewer job-killing regulations on employers and more restrictions on politicians. It gives more freedom to Americans to control their own destiny. And just as importantly, the Cut, Balance and Grow plan paves the way for the job creation, balanced budgets and fiscal responsibility we need to get America working again.

Mr. Perry, a Republican, is the governor of Texas and a candidate for president.

Campaign Buzz September 12, 2011: Rick Perry’s Op-Ed in USA Today on Social Security — “I am going to be honest with the American people” (Full Text)



Rick Perry: I am going to be honest with the American people

Gov. Rick PerryThe first step to fixing a problem is honestly admitting there is a problem. America’s goal must be to fix Social Security by making it more financially sound and sustainable for the long term. But Americans deserve a frank and honest discussion

As I said at the Reagan Library recently, Social Security benefits for current recipients and those nearing retirement must be protected. For younger workers, we must consider reforms to make Social Security financially viable.

These are the hard facts: Social Security’s unfunded liability is calculated in the trillions of dollars. Last year, annual Social Security outlays exceeded annual revenues for the first time since 1983. The Congressional Budget Office projects that outlays will be roughly 5% greater than revenues over the next five years, worsening as more and more Baby Boomers retire.

By 2037, retirees will only get roughly 76 cents back for every dollar that is put into Social Security unless reforms are implemented. Imagine how long a traditional retirement or investment plan could survive if it projected investors would lose 24% of their money?

I am going to be honest with the American people. Our elected leaders must have the strength to speak frankly about entitlement reform if we are to right our nation’s financial course and get the USA working again.

For too long, politicians have been afraid to speak honestly about Social Security. We must have the guts to talk about its financial condition if we are to fix Social Security and make it financially viable for generations to come.

Americans must come together and agree to address the problems so today’s beneficiaries and tomorrow’s retirees really can count on Social Security for the long haul.

We must have a frank, honest national conversation about fixing Social Security to protect benefits for those at or near retirement while keeping faith with younger generations, who are being asked to pay.

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas is seeking the Republican presidential nomination.

Full Text Debt Ceiling Showdown August 3, 2011: House Budget Committee Rep. Paul Ryan’s Wall Street Journal Op-ed “Where’s Your Budget, Mr. President?” & White House Response



Where’s Your Budget, Mr. President?

Ever since they fudged the numbers to pass ObamaCare, Democrats have abandoned credible spending plans.

Source: WSJ, 8-3-11


During the negotiations over raising the debt ceiling, President Obama reportedly warned Republican leaders not to call his bluff by sending him a bill without tax increases. Republicans in Congress ignored this threat and passed a bill that cuts more than a dollar in spending for every dollar it increases the debt limit, without raising taxes.

Yesterday, Mr. Obama signed this bill into law. He was, as he said, bluffing.

House majority leader Eric Cantor and Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan discuss the debt ceiling deal and the political fallout.

Nevertheless, the president still hasn’t shown us his cards. He still hasn’t put forward a credible plan to tackle the threat of ever-rising spending and debt, and his evasiveness is emblematic of the party he leads.

Ever since they abused the budget process to jam their health-care takeover through Congress last year, the Democrats have simply done away with serious budgeting altogether. The simplest explanation—and the president’s real bluff—is that they don’t want to commit publicly to the kind of tax increases and health-care rationing that would be required to sustain their archaic vision of government.

The president’s February budget deliberately dodged the tough choices necessary to confront the threat of runaway federal spending. It was rejected unanimously in a Senate controlled by his own party.

Since then he has offered a lot of rhetoric but no real plan to avoid a spending-driven debt crisis. His speeches and press conferences are no substitutes for actual budgets with specific numbers and independently verified projections of future deficits and debt. Meanwhile, it has been over two years since the Democrat-controlled Senate passed any budget at all. This is a historic failure to fulfill one of the most basic responsibilities of governing.

This leadership deficit has thrown the federal budget process into chaos at the worst possible time. Even though Congress has cut spending by a significant amount, it still hasn’t dealt with the drivers of our debt—primarily federal spending on health care.

The math is scary, yet simple: In the years ahead, spending on programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and the Democrats’ new health-care entitlements is projected to skyrocket relative to the size of the economy, even as federal spending on everything else is projected to decline (see the nearby chart).

Even well-intentioned proposals such as the one put forward by the Senate’s Gang of Six lacked specific reforms to curb the health-care spending. Actually, it took steps in the wrong direction by explicitly requiring policy makers to “maintain the basic structure” of government health-care programs. That structure is unsustainable.

Medicare reimburses all providers of care according to the same formula, even if the quality of the care they provide is poor and the cost is high. This top-down delivery system exacerbates waste, as none of the primary stakeholders has a strong incentive to deliver the best-quality care for the lowest cost. Medicaid has fallen victim to the same trend: an open-ended commitment that drives up costs, coupled with a flawed federal-state matching formula that is breaking state budgets.

Supporters of the Democrats’ new health-care law claim that the law will fix these problems. But we are already seeing evidence that its maze of mandates, dictates, controls and tax hikes will actually push costs even further in the wrong direction.

Getty Images

President Obama signing the Budget Control Act of 2011 in the Oval Office on Tuesday.

Even the president seems to understand that the status quo of these programs is unsustainable. As he put it during a press conference on July 11, “If you look at the numbers, then Medicare in particular will run out of money, and we will not be able to sustain that program no matter how much taxes go up.”

On this point, Mr. Obama and I couldn’t agree more. Where we disagree is over how best to confront this problem.

The president’s health-care law represents an attempt to double down on the failed policies of the past. Despite claims that new methods of reimbursing Medicare providers will tame costs, the fact is that the federal bureaucracy has tried most of the measures before, without any success.

Worse, the law would create a new 15-member board of bureaucrats empowered to bypass Congress to make deep cuts in payments to Medicare providers. Time and again, such provider cuts have had two consequences: Providers have either increased the volume of services they provide for each condition, or they have stopped accepting Medicare patients altogether.

There is a better way—structural reforms that empower patients with greater choices and increase the role of competition in the health-care marketplace. The budget passed by the House of Representatives in April, “The Path to Prosperity,” outlined the beginnings of such an approach by repealing the president’s health-care law and proposing reforms that would make Medicare and Medicaid stronger and solvent for current and future generations.

In other words, we’ve put our cards on the table: According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), our plan puts the federal budget on the path to balance without resorting to job-destroying tax hikes. It will eliminate the shadow of debt that is discouraging job creation while advancing pro-growth tax reforms to get the economy moving again.

By contrast, the president and his party’s leaders have refused to submit specific, credible budget plans that tackle health-care costs while restoring economic growth. Unwilling to reconsider their failed bureaucratic approaches to health and retirement security, the Democrats can only propose tax increases, and lots of them.

The CBO’s latest Long-Term Outlook in June estimated that total tax revenues would have to double by mid-century in order to finance our current spending path. Health-care costs rose about 8% in 2011 and are projected to rise by 8.5% in 2012. At this rate, taxes would have to rise again and again just to keep up with health-care spending. Is it any wonder that the president and his party are afraid to produce a budget that requires such ruinous levels of taxation?

The president tried to use the debt-ceiling negotiations to secure the first of many tax increases that his party needs to pay for its legacy of unfunded promises. He failed. Instead, Republicans won the policy debate by securing the first of many spending restraints we need to avoid a debt-driven economic calamity.

Much hard work remains. But this work will be harder still if leading Democrats remain unwilling to lay their cards on the table and give the American people the debate they deserve.

Mr. Ryan, a congressman from Wisconsin, serves as chairman of the House Budget Committee.

Responding To Representative Ryan

Source: WH, 8-3-11

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan offered an interesting take on the President’s leadership on dealing with our long-term debt and deficits the recent deficit reduction negotiations in today’s Wall Street Journal. Below are a few of Congressman Ryan’s claims along with our responses.

Claim: The President has failed to put forward a plan to tackle our long term debt and deficits.

  • Since the beginning of the current debate on the debt ceiling, the President has led with a comprehensive plan for deficit reduction.
  • In April, the President released a fiscal framework for $4 trillion in deficit reduction, which described the President’s plans for closing tax loopholes and for responsible reforms of Medicare and Medicaid so they are strengthened for future generations.
  • Beginning less than a week after he announced this Framework, the President led four separate efforts to negotiate a compromise on the debt limit – talks with Vice President Joe Biden, meetings with all eight Congressional leaders from both parties, and two rounds of negotiations directly with Speaker Boehner.
  • Throughout this process, the Administration put forward specific policy proposals with the goal of reaching an agreement on a $4 trillion package – an agreement which Speaker Boehner ultimately walked away from.

Claim: The GOP “won the policy debate” during the debt negotiations.

  • We believe that this agreement was not a victory for one party, but for the American people. If Congress did not act and allowed the United States to default on its obligations, the results would have been catastrophic for our economy and for millions of Americans still digging out from the last recession.
  • The debt agreement is consistent with the President’s commitment to protecting our nation from default and achieving significant deficit reduction through a balanced approach.  It represents an important down payment on reform of about $1 trillion and sets the stage for additional balanced deficit reduction by the end of the year.
  • In enacting this bill, the President held to his principles—and prevented Republicans from ending Medicare as we know it, slashing Medicaid, and threatening Social Security.
  • The President prevented Republicans from using the prospect of default as leverage again in six months by pushing any additional debt limit increases to 2013.
  • The cuts in the first phase are balanced between domestic and security spending, while protecting critical initiatives like aid for college students.
  • If the new Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction fails to act, the law includes a balanced enforcement mechanism—that divides automatic cuts 50-50 between defense and non-defense with low-income programs exempted.

Claim: The President “warned Republican leaders not to call his bluff by sending him a bill without tax increases.”

  • As the AP reported, President Obama warned Republicans not to call his bluff “by passing a short-term debt limit increase he has threatened to veto.”
  • The President stood firm and forced Republicans to back down, preventing them from using the prospect of default as leverage again in six months by ensuring that any additional debt limit increases will not be needed until 2013.

Claim: Spending on Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act is projected to skyrocket, while the House Republicans’ budget outlined a responsible approach to Medicare and Medicaid Reform.

  • The Affordable Care Act was fully paid for, and according to the CBO will reduce the deficit by $200 billion over the next 10 years and by more than $1 trillion in the next decade.
  • The Affordable Care Act will provide coverage to 34 million Americans and will extend the life of the Medicare trust fund.
  • The House Republican plan would convert Medicare into a voucher program; increasing seniors’ health costs by $6,400 annually starting in 2022; raise health insurance premiums for middle-class Americans and small businesses; and cut Federal Medicaid spending by one-third by the end of the decade, which would cause 50 million to lose coverage.

Claim: The House Republicans’ plan would put the budget on a path to balance without tax increases, while President Obama tried to use the debt ceiling negotiations to raise taxes.

  • The House Republicans’ plan would also put the nation on a path to end the guarantee of Medicare for our seniors while imposing deep spending cuts that would harm our economy to balance out tax cuts for the highest income earners.
  • Their approach locks in many of the irresponsible policies that brought us to the debt limit this week including tax cuts for the wealthy, big corporations and special interests.
  • In stark contrast, the President stands committed to a balanced approach with responsible entitlement reform, and comprehensive tax reform that produces a system which is fairer, has fewer loopholes, less complexity, and is not rigged in favor of those who can afford lawyers and accountants to game it.
Stephanie Cutter is Assistant to the President and Deputy Senior Advisor
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