VIEWS: 148 PAGES: 33 CATEGORY: Politics & History POSTED ON: 4/26/2011
Kathy Hochul, candidate for New York’s 26th Congressional District, today released a new television advertisement entitled “The Right Way.”
Kathy Hochul, candidate for New York’s 26th Congressional District, today released a new television advertisement entitled “The Right Way.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Fabien Levy, April 26, 2011 (716) 515-8322 email@example.com NEW HOCHUL AD HIGHLIGHTS JANE CORWIN'S SUPPORT TO DECIMATE MEDICARE Hochul first candidate of 2012 cycle to take on Republican plan to end Medicare ERIE COUNTY – Kathy Hochul, candidate for New York’s 26th Congressional District, today released a new television advertisement entitled “The Right Way.” The 30 second spot stresses the choice voters have between Assemblymember Jane Corwin, who supports ending Medicare as we know it, and Kathy Hochul, who will fight to protect our seniors by rejecting any budget that fundamentally alters the program. “Jane Corwin has said she supports the Republican’s 2012 budget that decimates Medicare, while giving tax breaks to multi-millionaires” said Fabien Levy, Communications Director for Kathy Hochul for Congress. “If she were in Congress today, Jane Corwin would have voted for a plan that numerous organizations and news outlets have said would increase costs to our seniors, cut their benefits, and force them to fight with insurance companies for coverage. Even Republican Senator Susan Collins has come out in her opposition of the Republican budget. “While thousands of Western New Yorker’s struggle to get by, how could Assemblymember Corwin support a proposal that would add more than $6,400 onto the backs of seniors each year? It is shameful that Jane Corwin supports a proposal that could send our seniors back into poverty, while lining the pockets of the super rich.” The ad is available for viewing at: http://www.kathyhochul.com/media/video. A copy of the script with background is attached. ### “The Right Way” Script Background V/O: Jane Corwin said she would vote Corwin: I Would Have Voted For The for the 2012 Republican budget… 2012 House Budget Citation: “I would have voted for the In a campaign statement, Corwin said 2012 House budget resolution passed she would have voted for the 2012 today.” Jane Corwin Statement, Republican budget. 4/15/11. “As a member of Congress, I would have voted both for this week’s plan to cut $38 billion and for the 2012 House budget resolution passed today,” Corwin said. [Capital Tonight, Jane Corwin Statement, 4/15/11] V/O: …that would essentially end Wall Street Journal: Plan Would Medicare. Essentially End Medicare Citation: “Would essentially end According to the Wall Street Journal, Medicare.” Wall Street Journal, the 2012 Republican budget would 4/04/11. “essentially end Medicare.” “The plan would essentially end Medicare.” [Wall Street Journal, 4/04/11] Republican Proposal Would Convert Medicare Into A Voucher System The Republican proposal would do away with Medicare’s direct payment for healthcare for seniors, replacing it with a voucher system in which seniors choose between private insurers. [Los Angeles Times, 4/15/11] Buffalo News: Republican Plan For Medicare Is Wrong-Headed The Buffalo News editorial board said the Republican proposal to convert Medicare into a voucher system was “wrong-headed.” From the Buffalo News: “More worrisome is Ryan’s suggestion to remake Medicare into a sort of voucher system whereby elderly Americans in some future era would receive vouchers to buy their own health insurance. With this wrong- headed idea, health insurers would almost certainly price their products just beyond the value of the voucher, giving themselves that much more revenue and burdening elderly Americans, all in the name of privatization.” [Buffalo News, 4/22/11] Buffalo News Column: Republican Plan Would Kill Medicare According to Douglas Turner of the Buffalo News, the Republican budget proposal would “kill Medicare.” [Buffalo News, Douglas Turner Column, 4/18/11] V/O: Seniors would have to pay $6,400 Seniors Would Have To Pay $6,400 more for the same coverage. More For Medicare Coverage Under The Republican Proposal Citation: “Seniors would have to pay According to the St. Petersburg Times, $6,400 more.” St. Petersburg Times, under the Republican proposal, seniors 4/22/11. would have to pay $6,400 more for Medicare coverage. “But seniors would have to pay about $6,400 more than if the program were not changed, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.” [St. Petersburg Times, 4/22/11] New York Times: Republican Budget Shifts Burden To Beneficiaries The New York Times editorial board said the Republican proposal would shift much of the costs to beneficiaries. From The New York Times: “The Ryan proposal would give those turning age 65 in 2022 “premium support” payments to help them buy private policies. There is little doubt that the Republican proposal would sharply reduce federal spending on Medicare by capping what the government would pay at very low levels. But it could cause great hardship by shifting a lot of the burden to beneficiaries. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that by 2022 new enrollees would have to pay at least $6,400 more out of pocket to buy coverage comparable to traditional Medicare.” [New York Times, 4/23/11] V/O: But the plan Jane Corwin Republican Budget Would Cut Taxes supports would cut taxes for the For Wealthy Americans wealthiest Americans. According to the Chicago Tribune, the Citation: “Cut taxes for wealthy 2012 Republican budget would “cut Americans.” Chicago Tribune, 4/22/11. taxes for wealthy Americans.” [Chicago Tribune, 4/22/11] Budget Would Lower Top Individual and Corporate Tax Rates, Permanently Extend The Bush Tax Cuts The Republican budget proposal would reduce the top individual and corporate tax rates from 35 percent to 25 percent. [Bloomberg, 4/05/11] Additionally, the Republican budget would permanently extend the Bush tax cuts that are set to expire at the end of 2012. [CNN, 4/02/11] V/O: The budget would overwhelmingly Wall Street Journal Column: Tax benefit the rich. Cuts Would Overwhelmingly Benefit The Rich Citation: “Budget cuts overwhelmingly benefit the rich.” Wall Street Journal, According to a column in the Wall Column, 4/19/11. Street Journal by Alan S. Blinder, the tax cuts in the Republican budget would overwhelmingly benefit the rich. “How many Americans know that 72% of Mr. Ryan’s claimed budget cuts would go to fund tax cuts that overwhelmingly benefit the rich?” [Wall Street Journal, Alan S. Blinder Column, 4/19/11] V/O: Kathy Hochul says cut the deficit but do it the right way. V/O: Protect Medicare. V/O: And no more tax breaks for multi- millionaires. Kathy Hochul: I’m Kathy Hochul and I approve this message. Corwin: I Would Have Voted ‘Yes’ Capital Tonight—4/15/11 For five straight days, Erie County Clerk Kahty Hochul has been pressuring her NY-26 GOP opponent, Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, to take a position on the GOP budget proposal up for a vote in the House today. As Hochul called on her opponents to join her in “rejecting any budget that would add burdensome costs onto the backs of America’s seniors, Corwin’s campaign remained mum.” That caused Hochul to accuse her of dodging. Today, however, Hochul finally got her answer…Or rather, I got it for her, since the Corwin campaign emailed me the following statement late this afternoon. “As a member of Congress, I would have voted both for this week’s plan to cut $38 billion and for the 2012 House budget resolution passed today because these bills are good initial steps in addressing America’s crippling deficit. ” “Our country is on the verge of bankruptcy, and our economy, our children’s future, and the security of our seniors are in jeopardy if we choose not to act. Now, it’s time that my opponents say exactly what they would do to address our nation’s burgeoning deficit.” Today’s GOP budget bill passed with no Democratic support. Fifty-nine Republicans bucked House Speaker John Boehner and voted “no” on the bill that will keep the government running through September, but none of them were from New York. The assemblywoman’s support of abortion rights was a sticking point for some conservatives during the GOP and Conservative Party candidate selection process. In spite of that, Corwin spokesman Matthew Harakal says the assemblywoman has said “numerous times” that she would vote to defund Planned Parenthood. Jack Davis, who is running as an independent, issued a statement yesterday slamming the budget proposals from both the Democrats and the Republicans for failing to address “the real issue: jobs for Americans.” “I oppose privatizing Medicare and forcing seniors to buy insurance with vouchers.,” Davis continued. “This would throw millions of senior citizens into poverty or worse, and it fails to lower health care costs.” “Instead of cutting Medicare and Social Security, we can save money by cutting foreign aid and foreign military commitments, from Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, to Germany, Japan and Italy. We must end corporate welfare and tax giveaways that allow companies like GE to pay no taxes at all.” Davis also voiced opposition to a Korean trade agreement and what he called a “NAFTA-style” deal with Columbia, both of which he believes will cost the country additional jobs. House Republicans unite behind budget vote Los Angeles Times, 4/15/11 By Kathleen Hennessey and Lisa Mascaro — Braced for a possible political backlash, House Republicans charged forward with their plan to slash deficit spending by scaling back Medicaid and overhauling Medicare while still cutting taxes, putting themselves on a collision course with President Obama and Democrats. All but four Republicans voted Friday to support the 2012 budget resolution crafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.). No Democrats supported the plan, which passed on a 235-193 vote. Republicans maintain that the plan will cut $5.8 trillion in spending over the next decade and balance the budget in 2030. It cuts taxes on the top income earners and businesses — from 35% to 25% — while closing unspecified loopholes and tax exemptions. "This budget keeps America exceptional," Ryan said on the House floor before the vote. "It preserves its promise to the next generation." Democrats cast the Republican vote as an attempt to dismantle the country's social safety net, even as the rich receive tax cuts. Republicans know the political risks, especially in swing districts and states, since all recent efforts to drastically restructure benefit programs have bombed with voters. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) said House GOP leaders were sending their rank-and-file members to slaughter. "I want to say to my Republican colleagues: Do you realize that your leadership is asking you to cast a vote today to abolish Medicare as we know it?" she asked. As GOP lawmakers left Washington for a two-week break, House leaders armed members with charts and talking points aimed at refuting Democrats' criticism and winning over constituents. A kit for members outlined a day-by-day plan for focusing comments on Republicans' plans to add jobs, deregulate business and cut taxes. While certain to die in the Democratic-controlled Senate, House approval of Ryan's plan puts Republicans squarely on the record in favor of an approach to deficit reduction markedly different from an outline offered by President Obama on Wednesday. The president advocates raising $1 trillion through taxes on the wealthy, cutting spending by $2 trillion, and saving $1 trillion in debt interest, thus reducing borrowing by $4 trillion over 12 years. Obama contends that on balance, his plan would cut the deficit more than the GOP proposal as a result of the tax increases. The Ryan budget blueprint would cut federal spending on Medicaid, which provides healthcare for seniors, children and the poor, and would begin distributing money to states by block grant. The plan would do away with Medicare's direct payment for healthcare for seniors, replacing it with a voucher system in which seniors choose between private insurers. The Congressional Budget Office found that part of the plan, which takes effect in 2022, could nearly double out-of-pocket costs for seniors. Republicans argued Friday that Americans are willing to accept diminished social programs in return for a firmer fiscal standing. "They understand in my district: We're broke. If we don't deal with this, we lose the social safety net," said Rep. Tim Walberg, a Republican from a southern Michigan district that voted for Obama. "I think they're ready." Polls show a much less certain picture. Americans appear to have a significant appetite for deficit reduction, but their appetites shrink as they get into details, particularly those involving changes to Medicare. Republicans emphasized that the Ryan budget would not affect current Medicare recipients or people 55 or older — grandfathering in a group of reliable voters who turned against President George W. Bush's 2005 attempt to enact a voucher program for Social Security. They argued they had no choice but to restructure Medicare and Medicaid, whose skyrocketing costs are major drivers of the growing debt. Yet, even as the Republican rank-and-file voted for the bill, some kept their distance from the details. "It's a politically bold move, there's no doubt about it," said Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.). "I'm not going to say I endorse every piece of it. I'm voting for it as a road map." Four other budget proposals — three offered by Democrats and one from the conservative GOP faction — went down in defeat on Friday. The Ryan resolution will serve as a blueprint for GOP-chaired House committees as they set out writing the actual budget legislation. It also bolstered the position of House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) for the next budget fight: raising the limit on the $14.2-trillion national debt. Boehner needed the lift after losing scores of Republican votes on Thursday's compromise plan to fund the government through the 2011 budget year, which ends Sept. 30. The struggle over the 2011 budget exposed deep divisions within the GOP, as conservatives demanded deeper cuts than GOP leaders could negotiate. Minutes before the 2012 budget passed, Boehner reaffirmed his hard-line stance on the debt limit, promising a struggle with Obama. "Now let me be clear: There will be no debt-limit increase unless it's accompanied by serious spending cuts and real budget reforms," he said. The four Republicans who dissented from Friday's budget vote were Reps. Ron Paul (R-Texas), Walter B. Jones (R-N.C.), David McKinley (R-W.Va.) and Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.). Rehberg, a Senate candidate, said he found things he liked in the bill but believed there were one "too many unanswered questions with regard to Medicare reform, and I simply won't support any plan until I know for a fact that Montana's seniors will be protected." Ryan’s budget plan was a gift to Obama Buffalo News, Doug Turner, 4/18/11 WASHINGTON — Fifteen dozen House Republicans listened to President Obama’s speech on the deficit and heard him speak the magic word. On Thursday, they voted for the compromise 2011 budget and against the radicals who Obama says threaten Our American Way of Life. Obama’s word is “patriotism.” “This sense of responsibility — to each other and to our country— isn’t a partisan feeling,” Obama said soothingly. “It’s patriotism.” Thanks to the reckless budget drafted by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Pell Grants, even National Public Radio are identified as patriotism in Democratic eyes. Obama sees the plan of Budget Chairman Ryan as a gift that will keep on giving, perhaps a bestowal of the Hawaiian supreme god Io, right through his re-election campaign. Ryan would kill Medicare, and block grant Medicaid. Like-minded House Republicans brag they will eliminate Social Security. For New York, the Ryan budget means cutting in half the $21 billion the state and its counties receive each year for Medicaid. The loss of Medicare and Medicaid money puts at grave risk graduate medical education programs and residencies, at all teaching hospitals. Now that ultra right extremism of hate radio has found expression in destructive legislation, Obama and Democratic congressional candidates can play this GOP nihilism the way the Republicans exploited the Red Menace in the 1940s and ’50s. Nobody knows how far Obama will carry this theme of togetherness or even if he is sincere. What matters is the steel cable of historic truth underlying Obama’s credo of economic patriotism. Broadcasters Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin and Sean Hannity, and their acolytes like Ryan, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, RVa., and Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., behave as though they would eliminate all government except that dedicated to warfare and homeland security. Their dangerous platform denies the fundamentals of what made this nation powerful and a land of lawful opportunity. Central to this, as Obama said, was sharing the good and the bad of what comes, financially. The Constitution’s Preamble urged the promotion of “the general Welfare.” This was a political statement, not law. Yet it gave rise to the progressive income tax, along with balanced and prudent regulation and support of business, mining, farming and prescriptions. Government built highways, subways, airports and financed hospitals and universities, set a minimum wage, worker safety standards, a safety net, health care and vaccinations and lunch for poor kids. Starting 65 years ago, government financed millions of college degrees and put families into their own houses. All of this sharing and regulation made America deeply wealthy. All of this is under attack by billionaire radicals who are the main force behind the tea partyers newly in office. The Democratic House Whip organization let Reps. Louise Slaughter of Fairport and Brian Higgins of Buffalo vote against the 2011 budget that was reluctantly backed by the president. Higgins released a laundry list of GOP cuts in education, research, public health and redevelopment. Slaughter said it undercut high-speed rail. It’s only the beginning for the Republicans. Yet when November 2012 comes, the bet here is that most Americans will vote their own well being and not worry about abstracts like the federal deficit. Dealing with the debt Buffalo News Editorials, 4/22/11 Buffalo-Niagara has been given a new taste of fiscal discipline, courtesy of the House Republicans who held the federal government hostage so they might force through some budget cuts. The budget accord, which funds the federal government through Sept. 30, will not devastate the region. Yes, there will be less federal money for infrastructure improvements, home energy assistance for the needy, the high-speed rail system that is years from reality, and Community Development Block Grants. But the cuts do not appear to be so deep that they are a death knell for any single program. Alas, it’s not over. The Republicans continue to set Washington’s agenda, over that of a president who appears more diminutive by the day. With a Democrat occupying the White House, the Republicans have seen the light on runaway federal spending, which they would have you believe occurs only during Democratic administrations. The previous Republican incumbent’s free-wheeling ways and his willingness to abandon pay-as-you-go with a complicit Congress rarely get a mention. The Republican leader of the House Budget Committee, Paul Ryan, has been everywhere pushing his offensive against the unfathomably deep national debt, more than$14 trillion and counting. But just as the Republicans did in forcing their budget demands—threatening to cripple the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to enforce the Clean Air Act, for example—the Ryan plan seems to be about planks in the GOP platform, not the debt. The U. S. Public Interest Research Group says it would wind down key elements of the Wall Street reform bill that responded to the economic collapse; roll back policies that rein in health care costs; and slash money for public transit while continuing handouts to the oil and gas industry, all while doing nothing to prevent 83 of the top 100 publicly traded corporations from hiding profits overseas to avoid taxes. More worrisome is Ryan’s suggestion to remake Medicare into a sort of voucher system whereby elderly Americans in some future era would receive vouchers to buy their own health insurance. With this wrong-headed idea, health insurers would almost certainly price their products just beyond the value of the voucher, giving themselves that much more revenue and burdening elderly Americans, all in the name of privatization. Fortunately, this idea has little chance of passage, at least in the near term. The Republicans have made cutting federal spending the be-all and end-all priority, even as the nation takes its tentative steps out of a recession. That said, the federal government must start spending less. It must climb out of hock with the Asian banks that buy our debt. And federal entitlement programs must be a part of the discussion. So, too, should the Defense Department budget. Even when the military has wanted to eliminate weapons programs, Republicans have protected them because they create jobs back home. We join those Americans who welcome an honest discussion about federal priorities, not a calculated strategy from the right to galvanize the base with ideological talking points as they ride the issue into the next presidential election season. The Republican leadership should take on a constructive role, not one directed for political gain and little else. Proposed Medicare cuts bring out political swords St. Petersburg Times, 4/22/11 By Alex Leary WASHINGTON - The intensifying debate on Capitol Hill over the national debt has seemed abstract for many Americans, with incomprehensibly big numbers and concepts. But throw Medicare into the mix and suddenly it's a lot more personal. House Republicans whipped up a storm last week by voting on a budget plan that includes a plan to turn Medicare over to private companies. This week the debate morphed into open political warfare. Radio ads are playing in Florida and other key states, a sure sign that the 2012 election battle is under way. Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi flew to Orlando on Monday to tell a group of seniors, "We're not going to let this happen." Despite Pelosi's implied threat, the GOP plan would not affect the 60 people who were in attendance. Republicans - assuming they can get the plan adopted - say it would not affect anyone who is now aged 55 or older. But elections are not won with nuance. Democrats are hoping for a voter backlash similar to the furor that followed the Republican attempt in 2005 to privatize Social Security - an issue that helped put Pelosi into the speaker's office. "From a political standpoint, Medicare reform is very dangerous territory," analyst Charlie Cook wrote in the National Journal in advance of Republican approval of the 10-year budget blueprint that contained the Medicare overhaul. (It would contribute to an overall $5.8 trillion in spending cuts.) "House Republicans are not just pushing the envelope - they are soaking it with lighter fluid and waving a match at it." A Washington Post-ABC News poll released this week showed 78 percent of Americans oppose cutting spending on Medicare as a way to trim the debt, currently at more than $14 trillion. The poll should send chills through Republicans in districts with many seniors or those with a healthy percentage of Democratic voters. But the GOP showed remarkable discipline, all but four House members voting for the budget plan. "Medicare does not have a future under the status quo or under the limp proposals put forward by the (Obama) administration and business-as-usual Washington liberals," Rep. Dan Webster of Winter Garden said after the vote. The plan, designed by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, "saves Medicare for future generations while ensuring that current recipients will not see a single change to their current benefit or coverage," Webster said. The Republican proposal would convert Medicare from a defined benefit plan to one of "premium support" payments. Seniors would be given money to buy coverage from the private market, though providers would have to meet government standards. The plan also gradually increases the eligibility age to 67 from 65. The plan would curb the growth of Medicare, experts agree. But seniors would have to pay about $6,400 more than if the program were not changed, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. "It says instead of guaranteed health care, you will get a voucher," President Barack Obama said in a speech last week. "And if that voucher isn't worth enough to buy insurance, tough luck - you're on your own." The president, however, acknowledged Medicare's growing burden (now 15 percent of the total federal budget) and outlined ways to curb spending without passing on costs to seniors. He proposes curbing prescription drug prices and creating an independent payment advisory board. Republicans dismissed Obama's response as hazy and not serious. Even some Democrats are not wild about the independent panel or tinkering with Medicare. What's clear is the issue has leaped to the forefront of the political debate. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee struck first on Tuesday, by saying it was launching radio ads in key districts, including many in Florida. The investment was miniscule - $340 for a 15-second radio ad in Rep. C.W. Bill Young's district in Tampa Bay - and mocked by Republicans. But it signaled the party intends to ride the issue. Democrats returned to their districts this week to criticize the plan at town hall meetings. "Sometimes you use a screwdriver and you turn it a little bit and other times you use a sledgehammer," Rep. Steve Israel of New York, who heads the DCCC, said of the ads. "We'll use different tools at different times between now and November 2012." Israel accused Republicans of hypocrisy, noting how they spent tens of millions on TV time in the last election harping on a Democratic move to cut Medicare as part of reforms in the new health care law. In North Florida, an ad by challenger Steve Southerland showed a man squeezing an orange as a narrator said incumbent Democratic Rep. Allen Boyd voted "to cut Medicare by $500 billion dollars." Boyd lost his bid for an eighth term and Democrats lost control of the House. Seniors favored Republicans by more than 20 percent over Democrats in the midterm elections, a major shift, with many citing the Medicare issue. Now the heat turns back to Republicans. "Tell Young to keep his hands off our Medicare," goes the ad in Tampa Bay. Young said he stands by his vote while adding there is enough time to make adjustments. He said once the Medicare plan is explained, "very few" people object. Coming to Young's defense and 38 other Republicans across the country was the 60 Plus Association, which casts itself as the conservative alternative to AARP. The group on Thursday began running 1-minute radio ads thanking the lawmakers for preserving Medicare "for years to come." Its budget, said to be $800,000, dwarfs the Democrats' effort. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, also from Tampa Bay, is in a Republican district and did not draw one of the ads. But he was on the offensive this week, visiting Coral Oaks senior center in Palm Harbor to explain the plan would not affect current beneficiaries. Asked if it was fair to ask future retirees to pay more for their coverage, Bilirakis replied instead that reforms are needed. "Our constituents keep telling us, 'Be honest with us,' " Bilirakis said. "The facts are, for future generations, it's not sustainable. We're trying to save Medicare." A Real Choice on Medicare New York Times Editorial, 4/23/11 We know it is not how most people want to spend their time, but Americans need to give a close reading to the Democrats’ and Republicans’ plans for Medicare reform. There are stark differences that will profoundly affect all of our lives — and clear political choices to come. The Democratic approach is mostly imbedded in the broader health care reforms enacted last year. The Republicans’ approach — including a call to repeal reform and ultimately privatize Medicare — was fashioned by Representative Paul Ryan and adopted by the House. Here are some of the most significant elements: FOR BENEFICIARIES, OR THOSE WHO WILL SOON BE During last year’s Congressional campaign, Republican leaders claimed to be Medicare’s stalwart defenders — conveniently ignoring their historical animosity toward the program. Older voters overlooked that history and flocked to the party in large numbers. Now the Republicans have embraced many of reform’s changes for Medicare — without, of course, advertising their flip-flop. One of the biggest differences, under both parties’ plans, would be a large reduction of unjustified subsidies to private Medicare Advantage plans that serve 11 million of Medicare’s 46 million enrollees. Last year, those plans were paid 9 percent more per enrollee, on average, for coverage comparable to what traditional Medicare would provide. By eliminating most of the subsidies, the Democrats hope to save $136 billion over 10 years. The Republicans plan to cut only $10 billion less. The Republicans have also embraced health care reform’s necessary plan to slow the growth rate of payments to health care providers, which was expected to save hundreds of billions over the next decade. House Republicans would make another deep cut — definitely not in the Democrats’ plan — that would hit many current and future Medicare users hard. The reform law provides subsidies to help close a gap in prescription drug coverage, known as the doughnut hole, that poses a hardship for millions of patients who need lots of medicine and often cannot afford to pay for it. The Republicans would repeal that subsidy. Perhaps most significant, the two parties have very different approaches to what they would do with their savings. The Democrats would use the savings to extend coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans, a goal we heartily endorse. The Republicans say only that they would use the money in some way to bolster the solvency of Medicare. That is not good enough. MEDICARE IN THE FUTURE The differences get even bigger over time. President Obama wants to retain Medicare as an entitlement in which the federal government pays for a defined set of medical services. The Ryan proposal would give those turning age 65 in 2022 “premium support” payments to help them buy private policies. There is little doubt that the Republican proposal would sharply reduce federal spending on Medicare by capping what the government would pay at very low levels. But it could cause great hardship by shifting a lot of the burden to beneficiaries. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that by 2022 new enrollees would have to pay at least $6,400 more out of pocket to buy coverage comparable to traditional Medicare. Huge numbers of Medicare beneficiaries live on modest incomes and are already struggling to pay medical bills that Medicare does not fully cover. We should not force them into private health plans that would charge them a lot more or provide much skimpier benefits. CONTROLLING REAL COSTS The country cannot wrestle the deficit under control unless a way is found to slow the rise in medical costs — and Medicare’s demands on the federal budget. President Obama is clearly dedicated to reforming the health care system. Mr. Ryan relies mainly on the idea that costs will come down because of competition among private plans and more judicious use of health care by patients who are forced to pay more. His proposal is too sketchy to determine whether he would repeal or retain most of the reform law’s quality-improvement efforts, consumer protections and pilot projects to reduce costs. What is clear is that House Republicans are determined to repeal reform’s strongest cost-control measure: an independent board that would monitor whether Medicare is on track to meet spending targets and, if not, propose further reductions that Congress would have to accept or replace with comparable savings. Republicans charge that this would allow “unelected bureaucrats” to “ration” health care, and members of both parties object to relinquishing any power over federal spending. But Congress has shown it is far too susceptible to lobbying by insurers, hospitals, patients and other special interest groups. It makes sense to let experts drawn from diverse backgrounds set a course for Congress based on the best available evidence of what might work. We were skeptical when the Republicans suddenly claimed to be Medicare’s great defenders. We are even more skeptical now that we have read their plan. We are also certain that repealing reform — the Republicans’ No. 1 goal — would do enormous damage to all Americans and make it even harder to wrestle down health care costs, the best way to deal with the country’s long-term fiscal crisis. GOP's Ryan booed for stance on tax cuts Chicago Tribune, 4/22/11 By James Oliphant BYLINE: By James Oliphant, Tribune Washington Bureau Rep. Paul Ryan, the face of the GOP's efforts to scale back the size of the federal government and trim the federal deficit, was booed by some Wisconsin constituents this week, but not for the reason you might think. Ryan's budget plan, as overwhelmingly approved by the House, would convert Medicare into a program that would provide seniors with subsidies to purchase private health insurance. But as Ryan returned home along with the other 240 Republican members to explain the budget blueprint to voters, he received heat not for the Medicare proposal but for his call to cut taxes for wealthy Americans. The liberal blog Think Progress videotaped a town hall meeting held by Ryan in Milton, Wis., a town not far from Ryan's hometown of Janesville. One participant asked the congressman about rising income inequality in the U.S. and why Ryan supported making permanent the Bush-era tax cuts for high-income Americans and why he opposed raising the wage cap on Social Security. "You have the lower spending," the man said, "but it's a matter of there's nothing wrong with taxing the top because it does not trickle down." "We do tax the top," Ryan replied, at which point the group responded with a chorus of boos. Ryan's plan would lower the top tax rate to 25 percent while eliminating many tax shelters and loophole provisions in the tax code, which, he says, would help make up for the lost revenue. As part of his own deficit reduction proposal, President Barack Obama has called for letting the Bush-era cuts for top earners expire, which would increase the top tax rate from 36 percent to 39.6 percent. Last year's congressional compromise, which extended the cuts for two years until the end of 2012, cost the federal Treasury $120 billion. Polls have shown widespread support for increased taxes on the rich. House Republicans Unveil Budget Plan With $6 Trillion of Cuts Over Decade Bloomberg--Apr 5, 2011 By Brian Faler U.S. House Republicans today unveiled a plan to overhaul the federal budget and slash the deficit in coming years by about three-quarters, with a $6 trillion cut in spending and 25 percent cap on tax rates. The Republicans’ first comprehensive budget plan since the November elections would cut the deficit next year to $995 billion from about $1.4 trillion now, though it wouldn’t balance the government’s books until 2040. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s plan relies on spending cuts to reduce the red ink, slicing more than $6 trillion over the next decade out of Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and scores of other programs. At the same time, his proposal calls for cutting taxes, with the top corporate and individual tax rates set at 25 percent. “We believe that we have the moral responsibility to step in and provide the leadership that the president has not been providing,” Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, told reporters today in Washington. “He punted on debt reduction. We’re not going to do that.” The plan escalates Washington’s budget wars, where lawmakers for months have been debating funding levels for the remainder of the current fiscal year. Ryan’s proposal presents substantial political risk for congressional Republicans and their prospective presidential candidates because Democrats are sure to pounce on proposed cuts to popular government programs in next year’s elections. ‘Honest Debate’ “We owe it to the country to give them an honest debate,” Ryan said. “We cannot keep going down the path of fearing what the other political party will do to us if we try to solve a problem.” While public opinion polls show that Americans want Congress to bring down the deficit, they want it done without harming entitlements such as Medicare and Social Security or many discretionary spending programs. Yet it’s the soaring cost of entitlements that represents the biggest threat to the government’s long- term financial standing, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, whose committee has jurisdiction over tax and entitlement programs, denounced Ryan’s budget, saying it would “end Medicare as we know it.” No More Guarantees “Seniors’ coverage would be cut drastically, benefits would no longer be guaranteed and seniors’ costs would skyrocket,” said Baucus, a Montana Democrat. “We can’t allow the House to balance the budget on the backs of seniors, and we won’t.” Ryan’s budget would set the top individual and corporate tax rates at 25 percent, the same level that House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp is seeking. Both rates are now 35 percent, and the top individual rate is scheduled to rise to 39.6 percent in 2013, when tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 expire. The lawmakers’ annual budget lays out their agenda for the year, though it wouldn’t make any changes in tax and spending laws. That would require subsequent legislation, which could end up different from the plan outlined by Ryan. His proposal calls for phasing out the traditional Medicare program and replacing it with a plan to provide individuals with subsidies to buy private health insurance. Payments would be offered on a sliding scale, with the poor and sick getting more and the wealthy getting less. It would only apply to those now under age 55 to spare current beneficiaries as well as those approaching retirement. Medicaid The plan would reduce the Medicaid health-insurance program for the poor by more than $700 billion over the next 10 years by capping the open-ended program and allowing states more discretion over how to run it. Most seniors would pay more for their health care under the Ryan plan, according to a CBO analysis that also said it may force states to cut their Medicaid rolls. Food stamps, farm subsidies, Pell grants for college tuition and other mandatory programs would be cut by $1.8 trillion. “What he has are tax cuts for the wealthiest among us financed by draconian cuts for those who rely on Medicare and Medicaid,” said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, a North Dakota Democrat. White House spokesman Jay Carney said the administration “strongly” disagrees with the Ryan plan. Larger Cuts The domestic discretionary programs lawmakers are debating would face even bigger cuts. Ryan proposes to reduce spending on them below 2008 levels and to freeze it for five years. The plan also calls for rescinding the authority Congress gave regulators in last year’s Wall Street regulation overhaul to resolve large, systematically risky financial institutions. Republicans, who opposed the law, say such authority makes those institutions “too big to fail.” The plan doesn’t propose specific cuts to Social Security, because Ryan said Republicans want to leave room for a possible compromise with Democrats. “Social Security is the area in which I hope we still have room for bipartisan agreement,” he said. The plan wouldn’t cut the Pentagon, the government’s second-biggest program, beyond what Defense Secretary Robert Gates has already proposed. “We think Secretary Gates is doing a good job in going through the Pentagon budget looking for a bunch of waste and a lot of inefficiencies,” Ryan said. A Party Divided Ryan’s proposal has divided Republicans over how quickly to reduce the deficit as well as how. Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, who heads the Republican Study Committee, a bloc of fiscally conservative lawmakers, said he was unsure whether to support the plan because it takes so long to erase the deficit. “We just think you got to get there faster,” Jordan said. He said the RSC would introduce an alternative budget plan this week. Another Ohio Republican, Steve LaTourette, a self-described moderate, said he supports Ryan’s deficit-reduction goals, though not necessarily the specific policy ideas, which he called “a lot of flowery language.” “I don’t get all excited about the Ryan proposal on Medicare or the Ryan proposal on Medicaid, but I do get all excited about his goal and his targets,” he said. “Nobody should construe a positive vote in favor of the Ryan budget as an endorsement of any specific proposal.” The administration’s debt commission last year offered a plan that wouldn’t show a balanced budget for more than 25 years, while a group of independent budget experts gave up trying to show a plausible path toward balancing the budget. President Barack Obama’s budget got the deficit down to $750 billion in 2015, though it would begin growing again in subsequent years. House GOP budget to call for big changes to Medicare, Medicaid CNN, April 02, 2011 By Dana Bash House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, will unveil a highly anticipated 2012 Republican budget next week that proposes dramatic changes to political lightning rods: entitlements. The plan, to be released Tuesday, calls for a controversial overhaul of Medicare, the health care program for seniors, and imposes deep cuts in Medicaid, which provides health benefits to low-income Americans, according to House Republican sources with knowledge of the proposal. Starting 10 years from now, in 2021, Americans would no longer enroll in the Medicare program, but instead receive vouchers for private insurance, according to the GOP sources, who stressed anyone 55 or older now would not be affected by the change. The plan is modeled after one Ryan proposed last year with Alice Rivlin, budget director under President Bill Clinton. Details of how Ryan's Medicare voucher program would work are still unclear, but the Ryan-Rivlin plan said the amount of the voucher -- a lump sum payment from the government -- would be calculated in part by taking the average federal cost per Medicare enrollee. The GOP aims to save billions of dollars in revamping Medicare, a large contributor to the massive federal deficit and debt. Sources said they did not yet know how much savings Ryan would project by drastically changing the Medicare program. On Medicaid, Ryan's plan calls for deep cuts, as much as $1 trillion. The program would also fundamentally change -- the federal share of the Medicaid system would become block grants to the states. CNN has been told that the House GOP budget plan does not call for significant change to the Social Security program. Republicans argue that while Social Security is a factor in the nation's fiscal crisis, it doesn't contribute as much to the soaring debt as Medicare. Two House GOP lawmakers briefed on the proposal told CNN they and others on the House Budget Committee believe it's a mistake not to tackle Social Security. As for so-called discretionary spending, one of the sources -- who would not speak on the record before the plan is publicly announced -- said Ryan's proposal promises to roll back spending to 2006 levels. It's unclear how much that would slash, but it is expected to be far more than the roughly $61 billion in spending cuts House Republicans passed in February. Ryan is expected to give specifics on how much savings the plan would create when it is unveiled Tuesday. A GOP source said even with the major cuts and changes in Ryan's proposal -- essentially a blueprint that guides spending decisions and does not go to the president for his signature -- it would not bring the budget into balance for many years. Still, GOP sources briefed on the plan said it would save hundreds of billions of dollars more than the president's proposed 2012 budget, and trillions over the next 10 years. The budget would also cut the corporate tax rate, but at the same time do away with tax loopholes for corporations. Ryan's plan also provides for a permanent extension of all the Bush-era tax cuts, which under a compromise with President Barack Obama were extended last year through 2012. House Republican leaders have been signaling for some time that they plan dramatic and controversial changes to entitlement programs in order to rein in the budget deficit and debt. Knowing that the proposed changes will be politically risky and elicit an onslaught of criticism, Ryan and Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy have been holding sessions two or three times a week with House Republicans to try to arm them with information about the gravity of the debt problem and why it needs to be fixed. CNN was allowed into one of these meetings last month, and heard Ryan lay out for his GOP colleagues in stark terms what he calls the "tidal wave" of debt the country is facing. "The Congressional Budget Office has this economic model where they measure the economy going forward, and they are telling us that the entire economy crashes in the year 2037 because their computer simulation can't conceive of any way in which the U.S. economy can continue," Ryan told the GOP group. "By the time my kids are my age, just those three programs -- Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare --will consume all federal revenues. There will be no room for anything else in the federal budget," Ryan said. When Ryan proposed a version of his Medicare overhaul idea last year, known as his "road map," Democrats skewered it and tried to use it as a campaign weapon against Republicans across the country. Obama has often said it is important for Washington to address entitlement spending. But the president has not offered any specific proposals, and Republicans suggest he wants them to take the first risky steps. Multiple GOP sources admit the timing of Ryan's 2012 budget proposal is tricky. It will be released in the middle of down-to-the-wire, contentious negotiations with Democrats about a spending measure to keep the government running for the rest of this 2011 fiscal year. CNN has been told that GOP leaders considered delaying the release of Ryan's budget until this year's spending differences are resolved. However, they decided to go ahead with it in hopes showing major cuts and reforms planned for next year will calm rank-and-file conservatives who feel the leadership is too compromising on spending cuts. GOP Aim: Cut $4 Trillion Wall Street Journal, 4/04/11 By Naftali Bendavid Republicans will present this week a 2012 budget proposal that would cut more than $4 trillion from federal spending projected over the next decade and transform the Medicare health program for the elderly, a move that will dramatically reshape the budget debate in Washington. The budget has been prepared by Rep. Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican and the new chairman of the House Budget Committee, and it represents the most complete attempt so far by Republicans to make good on their promises during the 2010 midterm elections to cut government spending and deficits. Though Rep. Ryan based the Medicare portion of his budget on a previous plan created in collaboration with a Democrat, Alice Rivlin, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and long-time budget expert, the current plan isn't likely to get much Democratic support. Instead, it will set up a broad debate over spending and the role of government heading into the 2012 general election. The plan would essentially end Medicare, which now pays most of the health- care bills for 48 million elderly and disabled Americans, as a program that directly pays those bills. Mr. Ryan and other conservatives say this is necessary because of the program's soaring costs. Medicare cost $396.5 billion in 2010 and is projected to rise to $502.8 billion in 2016. At that pace, spending on the program would have doubled between 2002 and 2016. Mr. Ryan's proposal would apply to those currently under the age of 55, and for those Americans would convert Medicare into a "premium support" system. Participants from that group would choose from an array of private insurance plans when they reach 65 and become eligible, and the government would pay about the first $15,000 in premiums. Those who are poorer or less healthy would receive bigger payments than others. "There is nobody saying that Medicare can stay in its current path," Mr. Ryan said on Fox News Sunday. "We should not be measuring ourselves against some mythical future of Medicare that isn't sustainable." The proposal would also convert Medicaid, the health program for the poor, into a series of block grants to give states more flexibility. And it is expected to suggest significant cuts in Social Security, while proposing fewer details on how to achieve them. The federal government expects to spend about $275 billion in 2011 on Medicaid, the program that provides medical care to the poor and disabled, up from $117.9 billion in 2000. The Congressional Budget Office projects Medicaid spending will roughly double by 2021. Conservative activists who are familiar with the Ryan plan said they expect it to call for a fundamental overhaul of the tax system, with a 25% top rate for both individuals and corporations, compared to the current 35% top rate. It is expected to raise about the same amount of money as the current system, however. Lawmakers already are considering ways to accomplish that by reducing or eliminating some deductions and other tax breaks. Some conservatives also expected the budget plan to tout a temporary tax change that would let U.S. multinationals bring home as much as $1 trillion in profits at a greatly reduced tax rate. That money currently is parked overseas, beyond the reach of U.S. corporate taxation. Mr. Ryan and other Republicans on Sunday made it plain a primary goal in advancing the budget plan is to start setting the terms of a debate for the 2012 election, and to move beyond the debate over trimming tens of billions in spending during the remaining six months of the current fiscal year. The government could partially close on Friday if no deal is reached. Democratic and Republican negotiators have reached agreement on how to divide up $33 billion in cuts for this year, a congressional aide familiar with the talks said Sunday. Specific trims haven't been set, but amounts have been allocated to broad categories like agriculture and interior. Democrats are pushing to meet the target in part by cuts to mandatory programs, such as agricultural subsidies. Mr. Ryan wouldn't be more specific in the "Fox News Sunday" interview about his spending reduction targets, saying Republicans were still working on the numbers. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the government is on track to spend $45.77 trillion in the next 10 years, and that total deficits will amount to nearly $12 trillion if current policies are extended. By suggesting sweeping changes to Medicare, as well as Medicaid and Social Security, Republican leaders are gambling that Americans are worried enough about the growing national debt to accept overhauling social programs that now cover medical costs or provide monthly incomes for a substantial swath of the public. As the debate in Congress has shifted to how much to cut federal spending, instead of how much more to spend for stimulus programs or other efforts to prop up the economy, lawmakers in both parties, and President Barack Obama, have said there is no way to make a significant dent in projected deficits without some action to overhaul Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid, which make up 60% of the budget. Mr. Ryan said Sunday his plan would propose capping overall federal spending at close to "historic levels," which were closer to 20% of GDP during the 1990s through 2008. Democrats say the GOP plan will leave millions exposed to financial risks. The Medicare premium subsidies would grow more slowly than health costs, they say, so seniors would end up with less coverage. "All this does is shift the risk and burden of rising health-care costs to seniors on Medicare," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D., Md.), the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee. "You're on your own with the insurance industry." The plan's supporters say it would cut costs without sacrificing quality by introducing competition among insurers. Mr. Ryan isn't alone in attempting to move the budget debate beyond the 2011 fight and Mr. Obama's 2012 blueprint. A bipartisan group of senators led by Sen. Mark Warner (D., Va.) and Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R., Ga.) and known as the "Gang of Six" is working on a proposal to cut $4 trillion from the projected federal deficit, building from recommendations of President Obama's deficit commission. Mr. Warner said he is concerned that Mr. Ryan's plan will rely too heavily on cutting social programs, and not take aim at defense spending or "look at major tax reform that would actually raise revenues." Ms. Rivlin said in an interview Sunday she would have preferred a plan that phased in more quickly and left a traditional Medicare program as a default option for seniors. But overall she supported Mr. Ryan's idea. "What Democrats have to realize is we have to do something," Ms. Rivlin said. "Current policy on Medicare is not sustainable. You can worry about how you structure a premium support program, but I think it's a good way to think about the future of Medicare." Paul Ryan's Reverse Robin Hood Budget Wall Street Journal, 4/19/11 By Alan S. Blinder Why do I oppose Rep. Paul Ryan's plan for reducing the federal budget deficit, the one House Republicans approved overwhelmingly last week? Let me count the ways. Actually, since there is not enough space on this page to count them all, let me just hit the highlights. Worst things first. The plan threatens to eviscerate Medicare by privatizing it— with vouchers that, absent some sort of cost-control miracle, would fall further and further behind the rising cost of health insurance. And to make that miracle even less likely, House Republicans want to repeal every cost-containment measure enacted in last year's health-reform legislation. Medicare would not die a sudden death under the Ryan plan—people over 55 are grandfathered. It would, instead, succumb slowly to a debilitating illness as the growing gap between the vouchers and the cost of private health insurance priced more and more seniors out of the market. This fate evokes conservative activist Grover Norquist's famous image: to keep on shrinking the government until it's small enough to drown in the bathtub. And who would go down the drain with it? Not prosperous Americans, whose huge tax cuts would more than compensate for their higher health-insurance bills, but middle-class people who really need Medicare. Then there's Medicaid, which is a lifeline for the poor. House Republicans want to turn it into a block grant, underfund it, and let the 50 states figure it out. Make your own judgment about how well your state would cope. I come from New Jersey. Mr. Ryan comes from Wisconsin. The sums involved are huge. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the House Republican budget would reduce federal health-care spending by more than two-thirds by 2050. (No, that's not a misprint.) Did someone say, "We have to destroy Medicare to save it?" According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, about two-thirds of Mr. Ryan's so-called courageous budget cuts would come from programs serving low- and moderate-income Americans, while the rich would gain from copious tax cuts. That's courage? This reverse-Robin Hood redistribution is bad enough in the abstract. Coming on the heels of 30-plus years of rising inequality, it is breathtakingly mean-spirited. But was such class warfare necessary to make the budget numbers work? Absolutely not. Both President Obama's plan and the Bowles-Simpson plan achieve comparable deficit reduction without further gilding the New Gilded Age. It gets worse. The House Budget Committee's own rack-up of changes from the CBO baseline displays the much-ballyhooed $5.8 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years. But it also displays $4.2 trillion less in tax revenue. How many Americans know that 72% of Mr. Ryan's claimed budget cuts would go to fund tax cuts that overwhelmingly benefit the rich? Actually, it's much worse. Astute budget analysts noticed two errors in the $5.8 trillion number. First, Mr. Ryan's staff made a miscalculation, which overstated interest savings by $200 billion. Second, $1.3 trillion of the advertised savings come from dropping the (silly) assumption that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will go on forever at current spending rates, rather than phasing down in accord with current policy. The total overstatement of $1.5 trillion leaves just $4.3 trillion in genuine savings over 10 years—barely enough to cover the tax cuts. So, when it comes to reducing the deficit over the next decade, the Ryan plan is not a lion, but a lamb—and a rather heartless lamb at that. But follow the numbers out for decades, and the Ryan plan does turn into a lion. The CBO's scorekeeping shows federal spending under the House Republican budget falling to just 14¾% of GDP in 2050. (It's now 23¾%.) That sounds great—until you think about it. For openers, the last time federal spending was that small a share of the economy was 1951—before Medicare and Medicaid, before the Departments of Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Education, Energy, Transportation, Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security. You get the idea. Somewhere, Mr. Norquist is filling his bathtub. There's more. The CBO report on the House Republican budget gives only decadal data. It shows federal spending dropping from 20¾% of GDP in 2030 to 18¾% in 2040 and 14¾% in 2050, when the data stop. Fortunately, Mr. Ryan's January 2010 "Roadmap" ran the spreadsheet out to 2083. Those numbers show federal spending as a share of GDP dropping another 8.6 percentage points between 2050 and 2083—and they're still falling when the spreadsheet ends. Were that to happen, you wouldn't need a bathtub. A soap dish would do. Under the House Republican budget, deficits don't just shrink, they turn into surpluses around 2040. By 2050, when the CBO's analysis ends, the annual surplus is up to 4¼% of GDP and rising. The national debt is down to 10% of GDP and falling. On that path, the national debt turns negative by about 2053— and keeps on falling. Now, none of this will happen, of course. So why look at such long-run projections? Because they reveal the underlying aspiration. While the House Republican plan achieves too little genuine deficit reduction over the next decade, it calls for much too much in the long run. The not-so-hidden agenda is clear: to shrink the government drastically. The Ryan plan has received vastly too much praise from people who should know better. For a while, it was even celebrated as "the only game in town," which it never was. It was preceded by both the Bowles-Simpson and Domenici- Rivlin plans, which are vastly superior in every respect. Within days of Mr. Ryan's announcement, President Obama chimed in with his own ideas on deficit reduction—another huge improvement over the Ryan plan. Now we await the Senate Gang of Six's entry. No, the House Republican plan is not the only game in town. It's only the worst.
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