To be sure there is plenty for everyone to both like and dislike. If adopted it would certainly put the nation back on track toward fiscal balance though some believe that the estimated $6 trillion in savings it would produce over the next 10 years is woefully inadequate, given the current state of the U.S. economy. On the other hand the cuts are not nearly as draconian or as painful as some people seem willing to suggest. [Vote now: Should Ryan's budget plan become law?]
The Ryan budget is the first responsible attempt at real entitlement reform, one that addresses the coming economic crisis in a way that may transform a fiscal avalanche into something less than a glancing blow at the time Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are scheduled to become so big and so expensive as to overwhelm the remainder of the federal government.
One place it has been well received is among the nation’s governors, who like Ryan's idea that Medicaid be turned over to the states in the form of block grants. [Check out a roundup of political cartoons on the budget and deficit.]
In a letter to Ryan, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie praised the Wisconsin Republican's first budget draft, saying it “halts the out of control spending spree of recent years, and imposes a back to basics, fiscal discipline that voters clearly asked for in last November's mid-term elections. It also gives businesses the certainty they need to create jobs and accelerate the engines of economic growth."
Calling the nation's current economic path unsustainable, the governors praised the Medicaid block grant idea.
“This well established approach will give states the freedom to innovate, share best practices, and create cost-effective ways to deliver quality health care to our most vulnerable populations," they wrote. The four governors also said:
Medicaid remains an antiquated, federal maze of regulations and mandates focused on process instead of quality health care. It requires months and sometimes years of negotiations for even modest changes, perhaps resulting in a positive outcome at the end of the process. This practice must stop if Governors are to contain costs and provide a safety net for our citizens; we know their needs far better than the federal government. We cannot do the jobs we were elected to do while continuing to be hampered by a federal program that stifles innovation and handcuffs state flexibility.
The idea of Medicaid block grants, which has been around for some time, is one innovative step of many in the Ryan budget. Whether or not and how many of these ideas survive the give and take of the legislative process is something that is not yet knowable. What is important is that Ryan has put a responsible proposal on the table and it deserves to be treated as such by friends and foes alike.