Ryan says future GOP proposals will tackle Social Security and health care 

Budget Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan’s otherwise ambitious proposal to slash spending and reduce the deficit left two notable issues unaddressed: Social Security and comprehensive health care reform, which are major contributors to the debt problem. But speaking at the American Enterprise Institute on Tuesday, Ryan revealed that he and other Republicans were working on proposals that would tackle both issues.

“We’re planning on moving through (the) Energy and Commerce (Committee) later on, our full replacement legislation on health care,” Ryan said at AEI in response to my question, a reference to replacing the national health care law that is repealed in his budget plan. “We haven’t come together on finishing that yet.”

As a result, Ryan and the rest of Republicans on the Budget Committee decided to hold off on broader health care proposals, instead focusing on Medicare and Medicaid as well as some medical liability reform.

Ryan acknowledged that for his Medicare and Medicaid reforms to work optimally, there would need to be broader changes to the health care system that would control costs by giving more power and choice to consumers. The chief way to accomplish that would be to change the tax code that currently subsidizes those who get their health insurance through their employers to one in which the tax advantage flows through the individual.

“I believe that the tax exclusion is one of the drivers of health inflation, “ Ryan said, adding, “you’re subsidizing the wrong people. If you’re in a higher tax bracket, you’re getting a bigger subsidy.”

Ryan said he was working with Sen. Tom Coburn, R.-Okla. on updating a proposal they released in 2009 as a conservative alternative to the health care law.

On Social Security, he also said he had something in the pipeline.

“We’re going to be putting out plans in the future,” he said. “I’ve had a Social Security bill in every session of Congress since I got to Congress in 1998.”

He said that he thought there was actually some opportunity for bipartisan agreement on Social Security.

“We’re trying to set the table for that,” he said. “We’re trying to put in place a process which requires Harry Reid to own up to the fact that we do have a problem, that requires the president to submit a plan, and then many of us are going to submitting a plan. We’re talking amongst ourselves in the Budget Committee about getting behind somebody’s plan.”

Asked by one attendee why Republicans on the Budget Committee decided not to address Social Security in their current proposal, he said: “We went back and forth on this. And Number 1, we thought if we put one out there it would just be too tempting for Democrats to attack and that will send us away from actually coming together to talk about this. So what we decided to do was this trigger, not unlike the old Medicare trigger, which is that when the Trustees certify that there’s a problem with Social Security, which there is, that requires submission of plans to come to the table with fast track procedures in Congress to act on it.”

AEI has now posted the full video of the event, which you can watch here. The relevant part starts just after the 33 minute mark.

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