They got elected by saying the word “jobs” a lot during the worst recession since the Great Depression, though they voted against every job-creating program offered by the Democrats in the last two years. Now the Republicans want to sneak in their real anti-working families agenda.

Detailed analysis of House Republican economic proposals reveals an extreme agenda that few Americans would have knowingly voted for.

One of the most important items on their list is ending Medicare, a goal that will likely surprise even many Tea Party supporters who rallied against “government healthcare” in 2010.

Indeed only 13 Republican candidates for the House of Representatives actually signed onto a plan, offered by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., to end Medicare through privatization during the election. Now, somehow this apparently unpopular idea has catapulted onto the top of the GOP agenda since his colleagues installed him as “budget czar” after amending House rules to give budget authority to a single person.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Ryan’s plan to end Medicare would begin by giving Medicare beneficiaries a voucher to buy health insurance in the private market where the rising cost of care would quickly outpace the value of the voucher. Within decades Medicare beneficiaries would be receiving about one-fourth the value of medical benefits they currently receive.

Left unexplained is how seniors would pay for additional costs of care created by the Republican plan. Further, the plan fails to detail how health insurance costs would be kept under control. That isn’t an issue for Republican economic planners.

In addition to ending Medicare, the Republican economic plan seeks to destroy the Social Security program. First, the Republicans would slash Social Security benefits by 16 percent and then a few years later by 28 percent – under the guise of restoring “solvency.”

The plan would also divert some $1.2 trillion in public funds to what have proven to be essentially risky private retirement accounts, essentially ensuring that guaranteed Social Security would end and force seniors to rely on the good will of Wall Street bankers like the Lehman Brothers and investors like con artist Bernie Madoff to keep their money safe.

But don’t worry. The Republican plan doesn’t have it in for everybody. The plan calls for massive new tax cuts for the very rich and powerful corporations, eliminating the “earned income tax credit” for low-income families and doing nothing for small businesses.

The Republican plan would provide an average of $1.7 million more in tax breaks for those with income of about $3 million or more, while putting in jeopardy the retirement security of the vast majority of working families who now or will rely on Medicare and Social Security in their retirement.


Joel Wendland-Liu
Joel Wendland-Liu

Joel Wendland-Liu teaches courses on diversity, intercultural competence, migration, and civil rights at Grand Valley State University in West Michigan. He is the author of The Collectivity of Life: Spaces of Social Mobility and the Individualism Myth, and a former editor of Political Affairs.