ByÂ Jerry Zremski,Â NEWS WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF
WASHINGTON – Fifteen months after Rep. Kathleen C. Hochul walked into office after trampling Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan, Ryan is the Republican nominee for vice president – and Chris Collins, the Republican who aims to defeat Hochul in the fall, seems to not want to talk very much about Ryan or his proposed spending cuts.
Asked in a weekend telephone interview for his reaction to Ryan’s selection, Collins, the former Erie County executive, would not – even when asked again and again – endorse or even comment on Ryan’s budget, which would partly remake Medicare into a voucher program for future seniors while drastically cutting most domestic spending.
“I’m not going to get into a discussion now about a budget that may be passed next year with a new president and new Congress,” Collins said. “I’m not going to go back and relive any proposal in the past because they are in the past. All I’m saying is that I’ll never support cuts to Medicare for current seniors or anyone close to retirement age, including Medicare Advantage, which my opponent has actually voted to cut.”
For her part, though, Hochul – who insists she opposes those cuts in Medicare Advantage – was more
than happy to roast Ryan’s plan yet again.
“Never should this country consider fundamentally changing Medicare in order to finance tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires,” as the Ryan spending plan would do, said Hochul, D-Hamburg. “We’re going to continue reminding people of that distinction.”
Expect to hear a lot of that argument in the next few months, both in the Hochul-Collins race in the new, heavily Republican 27th District and in congressional races all around the country.
“The Ryan budget could be a potent political weapon in the fall, and not just at the top of the ticket,” wrote Larry Sabato, a prominent University of Virginia political scientist, on his weekend “Crystal Ball” after GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney selected Ryan as his running mate.
The selection also gave Romney – and every Republican – another running mate: the Ryan budget. And if you believe the polls, it’s a document that’s not nearly as good-looking as the telegenic Wisconsin congressman who authored it.
Ryan’s budget would redraw Medicare, currently a government-run program, into a plan where seniors would have the option of getting a voucher from the government to go buy their own health care.
Designed to save the government money on a popular program that’s running out of money, the Ryan Medicare program boosts the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 in 2023. Moreover, critics argue the Ryan plan could push more health care costs onto seniors if it were, as proposed, to take effect in a decade.
Hence its unpopularity. Some 58 percent of people polled by Opinion Research Corp. for CNN last year opposed a voucher plan for Medicare, and a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll released over the weekend showed that 79 percent of registered voters oppose reducing Medicare benefits.
In any case, Collins isn’t talking about the Ryan budget, a document he’s avoided endorsing since the start of his campaign.
Instead, he treated the Ryan budget – which the House passed for a second time this year – as a dusty relic unworthy of discussion.
To read more, visit:Â http://www.buffalonews.com/city/capital-connection/albany/article1001731.ece
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