Even if you’re not political, there’s plenty of reason to pay attention to what’s happening on Capitol Hill, particularly if you are interested in Medicare and federally subsidized student loans.
Under the leadership of Representative Paul Ryan (R – Wisconsin), chairman of the House Budget Committtee, the House of Representatives passed a budget that would change Medicare completely.
Under the Ryan plan, Medicare would become a “premium support” system. People 65 and older could buy health insurance and receive federal subsidies instead of the current system that most people paid into during their working lives.
Ryan described his effort as “. . . a plan to save Medicare now and for future generations.”
The Ryan budget also repeals Obamacare, cuts the deficit by $5.1 trillion in ten years and would theoretically balance the federal budget by 2024. This passed the house 219 to 205. Twelve Republicans voted against it and so did every Democrat.
The likelihood of this becoming law is almost non-existent. But it’s like a rifle shot across your backyard. Persistent efforts to change public policy sometimes gain traction over time, and that’s why it’s important for Baby Boomers and others to find out where our Congresspeople stand on issues like Medicare and student loans.
PROPOSED STUDENT LOAN CUTS
The Ryan budget also cuts federal subsidies for student loans called Pell Grants. It would freeze the maximum grant at $5,730 for ten years and would cut a mandatory funding line. Instead, Congress would decide each year whether to fund and how much to allocate.
Cuts would also be tough on students who work. It would eliminate grants for students who attend college less than half time.
This budget also would eliminate interest rate subsidies for undergraduate student loans.
All in all, this isn’t a pretty picture. But it may be a wakeup call for some of us to pay more attention to the Capitol Hill follies. If we don’t, the consequences may be personally painful.
HERE’S RYAN ON THE HOUSE FLOOR.