House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Wednesday said House Republicans will cut spending on Medicare, Medicaid and other social welfare programs next year as a way to decrease the deficit and debt.
“We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit,” Ryan said during an interview on Ross Kaminsky’s talk radio show.
Health-care programs such as Medicare and Medicaid “are the big drivers of debt,” Ryan said, “so we spend more time on the health care entitlements, because that’s really where the problem lies, fiscally speaking.”
Ryan said he talked privately to President Trump about next year’s ambitious agenda.
“I think the president is understanding choice and competition works everywhere, especially in Medicare,” Ryan said.
During the campaign, Trump repeatedly promised not to cut Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security.
“I’m not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid,” Trump said at the time.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) last week said “instituting structural changes to Social Security and Medicare for the future” will be the best way to reduce spending and the deficit.
However, Rubio, like Ryan, left out a key detail: the so-called PAYGO law. Also known as the “pay-as-you-go” law, the PAYGO law requires Congress to offset any increase in the federal deficit with spending cuts, limiting Medicare cuts to 4% of its budget per year, so $25 billion of its $625-billion budget.
Max Richtman, the head of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, said that such a cut in Medicare would “undermine the delivery of care to the 57 million seniors and disabled Americans who depend on the program.”
“The driver of our debt is the structure of Social Security and Medicare for future beneficiaries,” Rubio said. However, this is incorrect. In fact, the driver of our deficit and debt would be the implementation of the proposed GOP tax cuts, which are estimated to raise the deficit by over $1 trillion.
“We still have time to responsibly structure those programs,” Rubio said of Social Security and Medicare, “in a way that doesn’t impact current retirees or people about to retire, but in a way that would probably impact it for me and people younger than me.” It’s important to note that Rubio is only 46 years old.
This could be done “in ways you wouldn’t really notice and wouldn’t really object to,” he said.
But anyone paying attention knows that while Rubio ensures no major changes to the benefits for those already depending on Social Security and Medicare, he cleverly leaves out future generations and the tens of millions of Americans already paying for their hard-earned and well-deserved benefits.
Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, told Bloomberg TV that “the most important thing we can do with respect to the national debt, what we need to do, is obviously reform current entitlement programs for future generations.”