Can Ryan Succeed as Speaker?
If he seeks innovative solutions, he might forge some grand compromises.
Paul Ryan has a shot at working some grand compromises, if he can succeed in parking some of the extreme positions taken by the presidential candidates of both parties.
For instance leaders from both parties have talked about lowering the top 35% corporate income tax, a good ten points higher than the average of other industrialized countries. It makes the American economy uncompetitive and drives corporate headquarters to tax friendly countries. That has to stop. A 25% top rate, endorsed in campaigns by President Obama, would get the job done.
There would be some lost tax revenue, but that eliminating corporate tax loopholes and creating an alternative minimum tax for companies could offset revenue loss. There is no logic or fairness to a system that lets GE and other big tax evaders pay next to no taxes in the United States.
He could also seek cross-aisle consensus on the drag of subsidies on the U.S. economy by getting innovative. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid deficits, present and future, need to brought under control, and everyone knows it. Within that subsidy hemorrhage, the biggest bleeder is out-of-control health costs.
At the heart of the company plans that are operating at 50% less cost than public sector plans are consumer-driven principles that offset high deductibles and co-insurance with Health Savings Accounts (HSA), a Republican invention, and free primary care, which Democrats ought to love.
Proactive primary care keeps people out of hospitals, and HSAs could buttress Social Security payments. There are already 20 million HSAs in the country, and they are growing at a fast clip. The HSA blessings to taxpayers could mitigate the need to increase Social Security payments in the years ahead.
Big national studies have shown that consumer driven plans save 20% to 30% on health costs per year, because consumers are spending their own money.
Three of ten large companies now have on-site primary care for their workers. Why? Because it works to improve workforce health and to lower costs. No surprise there. Better health equals lower costs.
Ryan should be able to convince a majority in Congress to latch onto these popular tools, apply them to recipients of Medicare and Medicaid, lower their cost trend lines.
A broader application of these health cost management methods to the Armed Services could free up major dollars for weapons and troops.
In short, medical cost inflation is crowding out many national priorities, for both parties’ favorite agendas. Ryan, the policy wonk, could craft an elegant national solution.
For a variety of reasons – serving the country, political ambition, the limelight – Ryan rose above reasons not to take the Speaker job. He will succeed to the extent that he breaks way from political ideologies and runs toward innovative solutions to the nation’s biggest problems.