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Saving the Warfare-Welfare State

Written By: Sheldon Richman  |  Posted: Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

            Why does everyone think Washington is plagued by excessive partisanship? The contest over how to address the fiscal debacle says otherwise: Both divisions of the uniparty (Democrat and Republican) agree that the warfare-welfare state must be saved. It's the means not the end that divides them.

            Rep. Paul Ryan, who leads the Republican side, declares that his goal in seeking a balanced budget (someday) is to save the three pillars of the welfare state-Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid-for "our children's generation." "I support these missions," he says. He would "voucherize" Medicare [correction: give "premium support" through regulated insurance exchanges] and give states discretionary Medicaid block grants because, he says, the alternative is insolvency. He would maintain Social Security, while permitting people under 55 to put one-third of their Social Security taxes into government-guaranteed accounts. (They would still have to pay current retirees' Social Security benefits.) His substitute for Obamacare would give a cash subsidy-he uses the Washington gobbledygook "refundable tax credit"-to "[ensure] universal access to affordable health insurance."

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