To the complete lack of surprise of political observers, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has rediscovered his hatred of deficits just weeks after pushing through a tax cut bill that will blow a trillion-dollar hole in the nation’s over the next decade.
Ryan made his unsurprising comments during an interview with Maria Bartiromo on the Fox Business Network this week.
Much of the conversation consists of a lot of gobbledygook about how high levels of spending on health care have distracted us from the American military, which has now been so hollowed out that Congress is obligated to throw more money at it.
(Whether the military’s problem could instead be solved by not continually sending it to get mired indefinitely in wars and low-grade military conflicts on nearly every continent is not a thought that appears to have crossed Ryan’s mind.)
Then, Ryan comes around to his key point:
“We have a structural deficit increase because of our entitlement spending. That is why — and the biggest driver of it is health care entitlements — this is why one of the biggest casualties of a narrow Senate, of that bill not passing, was not getting health care entitlement reform.”
Ryan is talking about the Obamacare repeal bill that narrowly failed in the Senate last summer.
He makes it sound as if that bill could have solved the problem of our “structural deficits,” when in fact every analysis showed that passing it would have only at best narrowed the deficit slightly in the short term and then increased it dramatically after a decade, all while throwing 24 million Americans off their health insurance.
It is also worth mentioning that Obamacare was designed to be deficit neutral, and in fact, the deficit came down in the years after its passage.
“We’ve got to reform our health care entitlements. That is why we can never give up on reforming health care. Because if you reform health care, then you take care of the structural drivers of our debt, like Medicare and Medicaid.”
Again, it seems worth asking why, if Ryan is so convinced his unspecified reforms would solve what he considers the nation’s debt crisis, he keeps trying to pass bills that would actually cause enormous increases in the deficit by cutting Medicare and Medicaid.
It would be much more satisfying if Ryan, rather than constantly sounding the alarm about the nation’s growing debt in order to panic the electorate into agreeing to huge health care spending cuts that he misleadingly labels “reforms,” would just own up to what he really wants.
He has no problem with deficits so long as they result from his priorities, such as military spending. But he opposes the federal government using tax dollars to invest in health care for the nation’s citizens. Particularly if those tax dollars come from wealthy people, which is why the tax reform bill was mostly large cuts for the rich.
But he won’t just come out and say that. Most likely, he knows that it either sounds callous, or that people want government to pay for health care to the elderly, the poor and the infirm when the alternative is indigence and suffering.
Instead, he couches the need for it in talk of entitlement “reforms” that will cut spending, all while producing exactly zero policy that actually achieves those goals. If anything, he produces bills like the tax cuts that will achieve the opposite.
And no one, least of all Bartiromo on the friendly Fox Business Network, is going to hold his feet to the fire to get him to admit any of this.