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Robert Reich

Ryan budget is reforming entitlement? No. Destroying it.

Entitlement reform? Forget it. In an era of rampant economic insecurity, Ryan’s destruction of Medicaid, food stamps, social security, and other safety nets would cause American families even greater hardship.

By Guest blogger / August 22, 2012

Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan leaves a campaign rally at the American Helicopter Museum & Education Center, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2012, in West Chester, Pa. Reich argues that Paul Ryan's slashing of Medicaid and Social Security would be disastrous for an already fragile economic recovery.

Mattt Rourke/AP

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David Brooks in today’s New York Times commits the standard error of pundits who want to appear neutral but know the Romney-Ryan plan would be a disaster for America. He asserts that Ryan makes a serious effort at entitlement reform. “If you believe entitlement reform is essential for national solvency, then Romney-Ryan is the only train leaving the station.”

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Robert is chancellor’s professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Clinton. Time Magazine named him one of the 10 most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written 13 books, including “The Work of Nations,” his latest best-seller “Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future," and a new e-book, “Beyond Outrage.” His new movie, "Inequality for All," is available on Netflix. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause.

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Baloney.   

Ryan “reforms” Medicaid by destroying it – cutting the federal contribution by some $800 billion and then continuing the cuts after the first ten years until federal spending is a small fraction of what it is today, and handing it over to the states, which can’t possibly keep the program going.  

Ryan “reforms” food stamps by slashing them – reducing the federal contribution by around $125 billion and then, beyond the first decade, essentially ending the program altogether.

He “reforms” Medicare by substituting vouchers that can’t possibly keep up with the rising costs of health care.

Originally he wanted to “reform” Social Security by turning it into private savings accounts whose value would rise or fall at the whim of the Wall Street casino. (Now he doesn’t suggest any reform of Social Security. )

You want real entitlement reform? President Obama has begun it. Rational people would make sure he gets a second term to:

Use the government’s huge bargaining clout in Medicare and Medicaid to push down drug costs and the costs of medical providers, and to shift from a fee-for-services system to a payments-for-healthy-outcomes system.

Then allow anyone of any age to join Medicare so all Americans can get affordable health care.

Fold food stamps and other programs for the poor into a single enlarged Earned Income Tax Credit  — a monthly cash grant that’s inversely related to income.

Save Social Security by eliminating the ceiling on income subject to it. (Now, income over $110,100 isn’t touched.)

These are real reforms. Ryan isn’t an entitlement reformer. He’s an entitlement destroyer. And in an era of rampant economic insecurity, Ryan’s destruction would cause American families even greater hardship.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best economy-related bloggers out there. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. To contact us about a blogger, click here. This post originally ran on www.robertreich.org.

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