By SARAH PALIN, The Wall Street Journal
The publication of the findings of the president’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform was indeed, as the report was titled, “A Moment of Truth.” The report shows we’re much closer to the budgetary breaking point than previously assumed. The Medicare Trust Fund will be insolvent by 2017. As early as 2025, federal revenue will barely be enough to pay for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and interest on our national debt. With spending structurally outpacing revenue, something clearly needs to be done to avert national bankruptcy.
The commission itself calculates that, even if all of its recommendations are implemented, the federal budget will continue to balloonâ€”to an estimated $5 trillion in 2020, from an already unprecedented $3.5 trillion today. The commission makes only a limited effort to cut spending below the current trend set by the Obama administration.
Among the few areas of spending it does single out for cuts is defenseâ€”the one area where we shouldn’t be cutting corners at a time of war. Worst of all, the commission’s proposals institutionalize the current administration’s new big spending commitments, including ObamaCare. Not only does it leave ObamaCare intact, but its proposals would lead to a public option being introduced by the backdoor, with the chairmen’s report suggesting a second look at a government-run health-care program if costs continue to soar.
It also implicitly endorses the use of “death panel”-like rationing by way of the new Independent Payments Advisory Boardâ€”making bureaucrats, not medical professionals, the ultimate arbiters of what types of treatment will (and especially will not) be reimbursed under Medicare.
The commission’s recommendations are a disappointment. That doesn’t mean, though, that the commission’s work was a wasted effort. For one thing, it has exposed the large and unsustainable deficits that the Obama administration has created through its reckless “spend now, tax later” policies. It also establishes a clear bipartisan consensus on the need to fundamentally reform our entitlement programs. We need a better plan to build on these conclusions with common-sense reforms to tackle our long-term funding crisis in a sustainable way.
In my view, a better plan is the Roadmap for America’s Future produced by Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.). The Roadmap offers a reliable path to long-term solvency for our entitlement programs, and it does so by encouraging personal responsibility and independence.
On health care, it would replace ObamaCare with a new system in which people are given greater control over their own health-care spending. It achieves this partly through creating medical savings accounts and a new health-care tax creditâ€”the only tax credit that would be left in a radically simplified new income tax system that people can opt into if they wish.
The Roadmap would also replace our high and anticompetitive corporate income tax with a business consumption tax of just 8.5%. The overall tax burden would be limited to 19% of GDP (compared to 21% under the deficit commission’s proposals). Beyond that, Rep. Ryan proposes fundamental reform of Medicare for those under 55 by turning the current benefit into a voucher with which people can purchase their own care.
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