Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A fellow you need to know about

You're seeing, and will continue to see, a lot of headlines in the coming days and weeks about the federal budget, deficits, a possible government shutdown, etc. And if you're like most people, your eyes will begin to glaze over and you'll look for something more entertaining to read about.

But people, this is serious. It's not hyperbole to say that the future of the country is at stake.

If you haven't yet heard of Paul Ryan, you will. He's a congressman from Wisconsin and chairman of the House Budget Committee. He knows as much or more about the federal budget than anyone, and he's one of the few politicians willing to tell you the truth about the budget. Here's the core message: Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security need to be fixed, and they need to be fixed now, or they will drive the country to ruin.

You'll hear this referred to as "entitlement reform," another term that makes you want to read something else. What entitlement reform means is simply this: We have to stop spending so much money on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

As congressman Ryan explains in this video, these three drivers of the federal budget are about to overwhelm us, creating a sea of debt that will drown our economy.

What's disturbing is that we've known this for 30 years or more, but we've never had a generation of politicians with the nerve to tell us. Anytime someone talked about controlling Medicare or Social Security spending, the other side - usually Democrats - would scream about "throwing grandma out in the street," or "cold, heartless, draconian cuts." Running AGAINST Social Security reform has been a Democrat campaign staple for a quarter century.

And it worked. People saw attack ads from Democrats, warning about some Republican's "plan to slash Social Security" and they voted for the Democrat. It was great if you were a congressional Democrat, but it wasn't so good for the country.

Social Security was built on a series of assumptions, including life expectancy, that are no longer true. In 1940, there were 140 workers (paying in to the Social Security system) for every retiree. Now, that ratio is down to three workers for every retiree, and the system is just a few years away from insolvency. If we make a few modest changes now, the system can be saved. If we put if off five or 10 years, the system collapses.

Congressman Ryan and his colleagues are trying to push through a budget that will bring this system under control. As they do that over the coming weeks, you're going to hear Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and the usual gang cry about the "cruel effort to destroy Social Security." If we let them get away with it, then the coming problems are our own fault. But if enough people stand up to say "this has to be done," then the country can have a bright, prosperous future.

Enjoy this video from Congressman Ryan.

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