By Jonathan Easley - 03/20/12 01:19 PM EDT
The chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reignited last year’s fight over Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) Medicare reform proposals on Tuesday, saying Republicans have an “obsession” with ending the program and that Democrats “will not negotiate” along those lines.
“Here’s where we will not negotiate,” Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday on CNBC. “This budget is déjà vu all over again when it comes to Medicare. Last year they tried to end the Medicare guarantee as we know it, and they’re trying to do it again today.”
The new budget will once again take on Medicare reform, but in a shift from his 2012 plan, Ryan’s new proposal would give future seniors the choice of receiving subsidies to buy into the current public program or a private plan.
“It is not acceptable to me to produce a budget consistently that asks seniors to be the first to sacrifice,” Israel continued. “There are other conversations that we should have. I don’t know what this obsession is with finding ways to end Medicare in Republican budgets rather than having a conversation that asks the wealthiest in America – many of whom I represent, many of whom have said they’d be willing to do more, as long as it was fair and the budget was balanced. I don’t know what this obsession is that targets seniors and doesn’t do anything, not one vowel, not one noun, about having the wealthiest contribute more revenue.”
Ryan’s new Medicare proposal was developed along with Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.).
Republicans took a pounding on Ryan’s budget plan last year, which didn’t give seniors the option of using the subsidies to stay on traditional Medicare. Democrats seized on the issue, accusing Republicans of looking to end Medicare completely, and have signaled they will make a similar argument against the new Ryan-Wyden proposal.
Speaking Tuesday on CBS, Ryan called these allegations “scare tactics.”
“Scare tactics, I don’t think are going to work,” Ryan said. “The country wants to be spoken to like adults, not pandered to like children. We owe the country a choice, we owe them leadership, we think, and if you want to save Medicare and prevent it from going bankrupt, you have to reform the program, and that’s what we’re doing.”
Israel also blasted Ryan’s plan to eliminate tax shelters while lowering corporate tax rates, a move the Wisconsin representative says will increase revenue for the federal government by broadening the tax base.
“It’s a great sound bite, but you can’t budget by sound bite,” Israel said. “You can’t say that you’re going to reduce rates and eliminate loopholes, but not tell us what loopholes you’re going to eliminate. Only in Washington, D.C., does two minus two equal four, and this is a two-minus-two budget. They say that they’re going to balance the budget, but they’re not going to balance it by increasing any revenues, they’re going to balance it by reducing the corporate tax rates, by asking the wealthiest not to do more, but to do less, and then they’re going to even it out by broadening the base.”