House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) has stated that his goal for 2018 is to cut Medicare and other social safety net programs in 2018.
As Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan draws an annual salary of $223,500 (roughly $170,000 more than his district’s median household income), and is only at the capitol 140 days out of the year. For roughly three months out of the year, Ryan and other members of Congress are in recess, in which they fundraise and spend time in their district on the taxpayers’ dime.
According to 2015 data provided by the Congressional Research Service, Ryan is the highest-paid member of Congress, making $30,000 more than the Senate President Pro Tempore, along with the majority and minority leaders of both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
However, Ryan is nonetheless pushing for the dwindling benefits earned by decades of hard work to be cut even further. Following his party’s likely passage of a sweeping tax cut package that will cost more than $1 trillion over ten years and disproportionately benefits the wealthiest Americans, Ryan told a talk radio host on Wednesday that Republicans will scapegoat Medicare, Medicaid and welfare programs for the deficit his tax cuts created.
“We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit,” Ryan told talk host Ross Kaminsky, using the pejorative term “entitlements” to describe earned benefits like Medicare. “Frankly, it’s the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt, so we spend more time on the health care entitlements – because that’s really where the problem lies, fiscally speaking.”
Several days prior to the Senate passing the tax bill along party lines, Bruce Bartlett — a former advisor to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush — predicted that Republicans would use the deficit as an excuse to go after Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, as that has been a longtime goal of Republicans since those programs were created.
Literally the second the ink is dry on the tax cut, deficit hawks will emerge from their hibernation, where they have had nary a word of criticism about increasing the deficit by $1.5 trillion, to demand that SS & Medicare be slashed b/c the deficit has mysteriously increased.
— Bruce Bartlett (@BruceBartlett) November 27, 2017
As of this writing, no concrete legislation has been fronted by Republican leadership to cut Medicare. However, Ryan has introduced proposals in the past that would turn Medicare into a private health insurance voucher system.
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.