House Speaker Paul Ryan's retirement next January will bring with it the question of who will lead the Republican Party's charge to reform the government's Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid programs.
As The Wall Street Journal pointed out, Ryan is the GOP's biggest supporter of making changes to those entitlement programs whose futures are not completely certain.
Social Security could start to run short on money by 2035, while Medicare and Medicaid are expensive, government-subsidized healthcare programs that have landed in the crosshairs of GOP health bills in recent years.
Ryan has tried for years to reform the trio with little progress. His retirement announcement this week yields the question of who, if anyone, in the Republican Party will take over his efforts.
"Paul Ryan was really the only leader willing to push his party to do entitlement reform, and who knew the specifics, including that there were hard choices involved," Maya MacGuineas, the president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, told the Journal.
Ryan has attempted since at least 2011 to reform the three entitlement programs, and he carried that over to the 2012 presidential election — during which he was the Republican Party's vice presidential nominee on the ticket with Mitt Romney.
Each time, however, Ryan has run into a brick wall of lawmakers who are unwilling to change the programs.
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