It’s no secret that she’s a Ryan fan (see here and here for starters, as one Twitter pal reminded me) but as far as I know, this is the first time she’s explicitly endorsed his roadmap as her preferred blueprint for entitlement reform. Which, I think, is a big deal: Ryan’s problem all along has been that, for all the positive press he gets, he can’t get the Republican leadership to talk seriously about entitlements for fear that doing so will scare off seniors and other prized constituencies. (That’s why I was surprised by his no vote on the Deficit Commission; it would have been a good way to keep the conversation going.) Palin’s op-ed alone won’t force McConnell and Boehner to get serious, but it will give new currency to Ryan’s plan and to the project of long-term fiscal solvency generally among tea partiers and the conservative base, and they can conceivably force McConnell and Boehner to get serious. That was the whole point of this post from a few weeks ago, in fact — that there’s only one faction in American politics right now willing and able to exert pressure on Congress to deal with this overarching problem. And since she’s uniquely positioned to bring things to the attention of that faction — and, if she runs, to inject this subject into primary debates — this piece is all to the good.
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 credit—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.
Follow the last link and read it all. One footnote via Philip Klein at AmSpec: Apparently, Paul Ryan told Ryan Ellis, the Tax Policy Director of Americans for Tax Reform, a few days ago that he’s phasing out the consumption tax on businesses (a.k.a. VAT) and replacing it with some as-yet-unannounced revenue-generator. That is to say, the roadmap is still a work in progress, which doesn’t mean Palin’s support will change but rather that you shouldn’t consider all of the provisions described in her op-ed as set in stone.
Two obvious exit questions here. One: Does this mean a Palin/Ryan ticket is officially on the table? And two: If she’s nominated, what’s going to happen to the all-important senior vote in the general election once Democrats start clubbing her over the head with this? I admire her guts in backing it, but it’s not a pure asset for a candidacy. Just ask McConnell and Boehner.
Update: Whoops, look like someone got their signals crossed. According to Klein, Ryan’s not dropping the consumption tax after all.
Update: The plot thickens: Ryan Ellis insists that Paul Ryan told him the consumption tax is out.