David Limbaugh
Analysts may be correct that the presidential election won't primarily turn on entitlements reform, but by choosing Paul Ryan as his running mate, Mitt Romney can, contrary to conventional wisdom, make it a winning issue and lay the foundation for a reform mandate when he wins.

Besides, the economy and entitlements are wholly integrated issues: We cannot ultimately fix the economy long term without entitlement reform, and we can't balance the budget or retire the debt without a growing economy.

Democrats appear jubilant about the Ryan pick, believing his close association with entitlement reform provides an opening for them to scare seniors into thinking they'll lose Medicare and Social Security benefits. But what they haven't factored in, or are pretending to deny, is that Ryan's presence on the ticket ensures that Romney and Ryan will tackle the entitlements issue head on and that Democrats will not have the luxury of merely fear mongering. They'll have to deal with the substance of these issues, and this is a battle they cannot win, because the facts are their foe. Let's examine these facts briefly.

No one can reasonably deny that Medicare is headed for insolvency, and that Medicare's insolvency, if not rectified, will lead to the federal government's insolvency. President Obama has admitted that Medicare is on an unsustainable course and that no amount of tax increases can fix it. The Congressional Budget Office tells us that Medicare spending has increased fivefold in the past 42 years, dramatically more than all other categories of federal spending.

Short of severe price controls ordered and enforced by Obamacare's Independent Payment Advisory Board, which common sense and the history of such controls demonstrate will not work to reduce costs absent rationing and radical reductions in access to care, Obama has no plan to restructure entitlements. Only a restructuring of the program can work.

The Ryan-Wyden plan (Sen. Ron Wyden is a Democrat), which Romney has essentially embraced, is a type of hybrid system that includes market reforms while guaranteeing comprehensive coverage for Medicare beneficiaries. That is, the law would provide guaranteed coverage, but the costs for such coverage would not be unilaterally determined by the government and thus open-ended, out of control and manageable only by rationing boards (resulting in reduced access to care), but by a competitive process.

David Limbaugh

David Limbaugh, brother of radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, is an expert on law and politics. He recently authored the New York Times best-selling book: "Jesus on Trial: A Lawyer Affirms the Truth of the Gospel."

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