Senate Democrats take aim at Ryan budget

Senate Democrats said Monday that they would use a significant amount of time in the Senate during the next couple days to refute GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan's budget.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) revealed the plan when she took the floor Monday evening, although she credited the idea to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) also got into the act.

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Boxer, chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, criticized the major infrastructure and environmental spending cuts in Ryan’s plan, but all three brought up Ryan’s changes to healthcare, Medicare and Medicaid.

“The Paul Ryan plan eliminates all the consumer protections, putting the [health] insurance company back in the drivers seat,” Durbin said. “I don’t think this is a good plan for America and I think when the American people hear about it they won’t like it either.”

Boxer called the same idea of giving control back over to health insurance companies, “leaving cookie monster in charge of the bakery.” 

Harkin also went after the House Budget Committee Chairman’s plan and called it a “blueprint” for where Ryan and his running mate Mitt Romney would take the country.

“If you’re going to try to move the country in a certain direction, you need a blue print and a budget is a blue print,” said Harking, the Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Pension and Labor Committee. “So we intend for the next couple days to let the American people know what is in the Ryan budget and where it would take America.”

Harkin proceeded to call Ryan’s plan for Medicare a “death spiral” for the entitlement program that insures the nation’s elderly. Ryan has proposed a voucher system.

“If you’re a pretty healthy senior you might be able to get a cheap private insurance policy with your voucher so what stays in Medicare then, the oldest and sickest,” Harkin said. “It’s a death spiral, that’s Mr. Ryan’s way of killing Medicare … it’s a right-wing conservative experiment.”

At the end of his speech, Harkin used the Obama campaign slogan of moving the country “Forward.”

“The Ryan budget rolls back all of this,” Harkin said. “So once again we are faced with this choice, the Ryan budget or what President Obama has come forward with in his budget … the choice is clear, let’s move forward.”

Durbin, a fellow Simpson-Bowles Commission member, questioned why Ryan would have voted against the commission’s recommendations when Ryan says he’s concerned about reduced the deficit. The Hill reported that Sen. Kent Conrad (D-S.D.) made similar claims earlier Monday.