Democrats believe the political fallout from Rep. Paul Ryan’s controversial budget proposal was evident in their victory in last night’s special election in New York – and on Thursday they hope a Senate vote on Ryan’s plan will cause even more problems for Republicans up for re-election next year.
The victory in NY-26 for Democrat Kathy Hochul was seen nationally as a referendum on Ryan’s proposal to overhaul Medicare. Now Democrats in the Senate are poised to force their GOP counterparts to go on the record and say where they stand on the issue.
“Democrats in Congress and even some candid Republicans know the plan to kill Medicare is irresponsible and indefensible. Last night voters showed the country and the Congress that they know it too,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said today on the Senate floor.
Reid wants to make vulnerable Republicans like Indiana’s Dick Lugar and Maine’s Olympia Snowe take a stand on Ryan’s proposal. Four Republicans have already revealed that they will break with their party and vote against the Ryan budget. More are expected to follow suit when the Senate votes on Thursday.
Snowe, for one, will vote against it. So too will her fellow Maine Sen. Susan Collins, Kentucky’s Rand Paul, and Scott Brown of Massachusetts. On Monday Brown outlined in Politico why he will oppose the Ryan budget.
“While I applaud Ryan for getting the conversation started, I cannot support his specific plan — and therefore will vote “no” on his budget,” Ryan said. “Why can’t I go along with the Ryan Medicare plan? First, I fear that as health inflation rises, the cost of private plans will outgrow the government premium support— and the elderly will be forced to pay ever higher deductibles and co-pays. Protecting those who have been counting on the current system their entire adult lives should be the key principle of reform.”
“Second, Medicare has already taken significant cuts to help pay for Obama’s health care plan. The president and Congress cut a half trillion dollars to the private side of Medicare — meaning seniors are at risk of losing their Medicare Advantage coverage,” Brown said.
But it’s not only Senate Democrats who are forcing Republicans into a politically uncomfortable vote. Two can play that game, so on Thursday the GOP will force Democrats to vote on President Obama’s budget proposal submitted in February – the same one that Democrats like West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Montana’s Jon Tester criticized at the time for not doing enough to reduce the country’s soaring deficits.
“Congressman Ryan has shown courage by proposing a budget that would tackle these problems. Democrats are showing none by ignoring our problems altogether,” the Senate’s top Republican Mitch McConnell said today. “This is the contrast Americans will see in the Senate this week. More than two years have passed since Democrats have produced a budget of their own. This is a complete and total abdication of their responsibilities, and there's no excuse for it.”
Of course, it’s a foregone conclusion that both budget proposals will get shot down in the Senate, but in this election battle tit-for-tat, that’s not the point.