The Republican Party’s Path to Impoverishment

The Republican Party recently released its 2012 budget proposal, introduced by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) under the name “Path to Prosperity,” and the details are startling: dismantle Medicare for seniors, shift Medicaid costs to states, and give additional tax breaks above the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.

Ben Nesselhuf, Chairman of the South Dakota Democratic Party, says the question still remains: will Congresswoman Noem stand with Washington Republicans or South Dakota seniors and families in need?

Noem supported an earlier version of the Republican budget proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan, and recently she has indicated her willingness to support the Republican Party’s current budget proposal. The House of Representatives is poised to vote on the 2012 budget by the end of this week.

Neither our seniors nor our families in need will escape the Republican Party’s plan to dismantle Medicare and Medicaid in order to bankroll more tax cuts and increase the deficit, according the Nesselhuf.

The Republican Party’s plan to dismantle Medicare in favor of a voucher system will dramatically increase the cost of health care for seniors across South Dakota.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that by 2030, the value of the voucher given to seniors in place of Medicare would only cover 30% of the cost of a private insurance policy equivalent to Medicare in its current form. In fact, the only way this budget proposal lowers federal health care spending is by deliberately making the value of the voucher worth less than the rising cost of health care over time.

As a result of the GOP’s plan to dismantle Medicare, seniors will end up spending more than half of their entire income on healthcare. That’s more than double what seniors pay today.

Just as seniors will bear the burden of the GOP’s plan to end Medicare as we know it, states will pay the price for the Republican Party’s plan to make Medicaid a block grant program for states. If block grants for Medicaid had been enacted in 2000, for example, South Dakota’s Medicaid costs would have skyrocketed 23% by 2009.

So, will the savings from the Republican Party’s cost-shift go towards reducing the deficit? Answer: No.

The independent Tax Policy Center estimates that all of the purported savings from the spending cuts of the Republican Party’s proposed budget would go to pay for additional tax cuts for the wealthy – not to reduce the deficit. In fact, the CBO estimates that this plan will lead to bigger deficits and more debt over the next decade.

Indeed, what the Republican Party’s budget proposal amounts to is the sacrifice of our seniors and families in need as collateral damage to enact bigger tax cuts for the rich and purportedly balance the budget. But even then, the numbers don’t add up.

To balance the budget, Republicans relied on estimates of unemployment at 2.5% – a level only seen briefly during the Korean War, and a deep cut in non-discretionary spending – including defense – to levels unseen for nearly 100 years. How they plan to reduce unemployment to 2.5% and return federal spending to such levels without crippling essential government functions and our nation’s defense is not outlined.

South Dakota’s seniors, soon-to-be seniors, and families in need will suffer if the Republican Party enacts its plan to dismantle Medicare and shift Medicaid costs to states in order to give additional tax cuts for the wealthy.

Independent analysis shows this bill will hurt seniors, states, and families in need, says Nesselhuf. “The time has come for Noem to decide if she cares more about South Dakota’s seniors and families in need or Washington’s Republican elite.”

If you would like more information on why Democrats support seniors and South Dakotans in need, please contact Chairman Ben Nesselhuf at 605-271-5405 or

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