Is the GOP’s Debt-Reduction Plan Courageous or Dangerous?


Both parties recognize the need to control long-term spending and reduce the national debt. Up to this point, however, neither party has wanted to be the first one to propose a solution, since that would entail fiddling with sacred entitlement programs like Medicare. Which in turn means pissing off old people, or anyone who aspires to be old some day — everyone except maybe Charlie Sheen. Now, Republican congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, known as the GOP’s resident budget wonk, has jumped into the fray. As introduced in a Wall Street Journal op-ed and a snazzy YouTube video, Congressman Ryan’s plan would reduce federal spending by $6.2 trillion over ten years and reduce the debt by $4.4 trillion. That would be great and all, but it’s how he wants to do it that’s already become quite divisive. Medicaid would be turned into block grants, giving states more flexibility in how to use the funds. More controversial is that in his reformed Medicare (which would not affect anyone currently 55 or older), vouchers would be provided for purchasing private health-care insurance. The government would save money by limiting the value of the vouchers, which, many observers contend, would put seniors at risk of not being able to afford medical care. So: Is this really a courageous, visionary proposal? Or is Ryan merely weakening the social safety net?

Ezra Klein, Washington Post:

Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo:

Paul Krugman, Conscience of a Liberal/New York Times:

Matthew Yglesias, Think Progress:

David Brooks, New York Times:

Kevin Drum, Mother Jones:

Steve Benen, Political Animal/Washington Monthly:

Jim Geraghty, Campaign Spot/National Review:

Peter Robinson, Ricochet:

Michael Shear, Caucus/New York Times:

Megan McArdle, Atlantic:

Andrew Sullivan, Daily Beast:

Jonathan Cohn, New Republic:

Andrew Stiles, Corner/National Review: