Snowe to vote 'no' on Ryan budget plan

Centrist Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) said Tuesday that she will vote against Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) budget when it comes up for a vote in the Senate.

Snowe, who is up for reelection in 2012, praised Ryan for proposing a budget but said that she disagrees with the way it reforms Medicare.

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"I am going to vote 'no' on the budget because I have deep and abiding concerns about the approach on Medicare, which is essentially to privatize it," Snowe told The Portland Press Herald.

Snowe joins her fellow Maine Sen. Susan Collins (R) and Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R), each a centrist who has said they will oppose the budget. Like Snowe, Brown faces reelection in 2012. 

Freshman Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has also said he will vote against it, but he says that's because the plan does not go far enough in cutting spending.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is expected to hold a vote soon, possibly this week, on the plan. The plan is expected to fail, but Reid has said it could elucidate divisions within the Republican Party.

Democrats have seized on Ryan's Medicare plan, criticizing it as an extreme proposal that would privatize the popular, but fiscally troubled, entitlement program. Recently, they have dubbed it the GOP's "litmus test," playing up incidents in which Republicans have split with the plan.

All but four House Republicans voted for Ryan's budget.

Snowe's position is not surprising. She has not praised the Medicare reforms proposed by Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee.

But she also criticized Reid for holding the vote on the Ryan budget, saying it won't foster a true budget debate.

"[Ryan] is not going to have all the answers or the answers that I am going to agree with, but the question is, can we work to improve it, to modify it? But we don't even have the opportunity in the Senate," Snowe said. "That's what we're facing, an up-or-down vote, all or nothing, and it doesn't need to be that way."

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