Every budget expert knows that the stories of exploding budget deficits in the tens or hundreds of trillions of dollars (depends how many centuries in the future we wants to count), are driven by our broken health care system. If the United States paid the same amount per person for its health care as other wealthy countries, we would be looking at long-term budget surpluses not deficits. However, people who don't do budget calculations for a living do not generally know that the real story is a broken health care system.
This allows charlatans like Representative Paul Ryan to push nonsense budget plans that mean huge tax cuts for the wealthy, while slashing the programs that low and middle income people depend upon, like Social Security and Medicare. They also know that they can count on innumerate reporters to tout their programs to the sky, since the media is largely controlled by people who also want to see government programs for low and middle and income people slashed.
This is why Time Magazine made Representative Ryan the runner-up for person of the year. He proposed a plan that, according to the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) projections would increase the cost of buying Medicare equivalent policies by $34 trillion over the program's 75-year planning period. Under Representative Ryan's plan, the CBO projections imply by 2050 the cost of buying a Medicare equivalent policy at age 65 will be two-thirds of the median retiree's income. For a person who is 85 the cost will be twice the median retiree's income.
Meanwhile, Representative Ryan proposed massive tax cuts for the country's richest people. Under his proposal, the tax cuts are paid for by the cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and other government programs. The projected deficits are little affected, since the revenue lost to tax cuts is roughly equal to the cuts in government programs.
Representative Ryan's program would imply a massive upward redistribution to the one percent. While Time Magazine holds out the prospect:
"the $15 trillion U.S. economy grows by 3% rather than 2% per year, after a decade that extra percentage point will mean almost $2 trillion extra in the national wallet each year,"
serious people do not listen to such nonsense. There is a vast vast pool of evidence on the impact of tax rates on growth. There is no way that a serious person can use this evidence to conclude that tax reform can have more than a modest impact on growth, and certainly not an increase of one percentage point, unless of course you work for the One Percent.
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