One day after his party – as well as his 2012 budget blueprint – was dealt a stinging defeat in a New York special election, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Wednesday that the election was not a referendum on Republicans’ proposed changes to Medicare, and he argued that Democrats had distorted the issue for political gain.
For their part, Democrats doubled down Wednesday on their charge against Ryan’s budget plan, which would overhaul Medicare for future seniors. Senate Democrats pushed up a planned vote on the budget plan in an effort to put Senate Republicans on record on its Medicare changes.
Erie County Clerk Kathy Hochul (D) won Tuesday’s special election in New York’s Republican-leaning 26th congressional district. She defeated state Assemblywoman Jane Corwin (R), 48 percent to 42 percent
“I would say two things: Number one, it shows that a Democrat running as a tea party candidate dumping a couple million dollars in the race is going to have an effect,” Ryan said. Third-party candidate Jack Davis took 8 percent of votes in the election.
“And number two, the Medicare takeaway from this is that the Democrats are happy to shamelessly distort and demagogue the issue trying to scare seniors to win an election,” Ryan continued. “We have a year and a half for the truth to come out, and when it does, the American people are going to know they’ve been lied to, and I think we’ll be doing very well. If you demagogue entitlement reform, you’re hastening a debt crisis; you’re bringing about Medicare’s collapse. And I don’t think seniors are going to like that truth when they discover it.”
The Senate is now scheduled to vote at 5 p.m. Wednesday on the Ryan plan, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said, with votes on three other 2012 budgets likely to follow soon after.
“I think the American people are very certain that this Medicare radical change is not something they want,” Reid said at a Capitol news conference in response to a question on the New York special election. “And I think that’s why you have Republicans stumbling all over themselves. They were doing it yesterday, but after this vote, it’s a mad rush to stumble over themselves. Of course they’re concerned; they should be.”
A handful of Senate Republicans have already announced that they will not vote for the Ryan plan; among them are Sens. Scott Brown (Mass.), Olympia Snowe (Maine), Susan Collins (Maine) and Rand Paul (Ky.). Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has also expressed concern over the House Republican budget.
Ryan dismissed the speeded-up vote as political gamesmanship.
“It would be nice if they voted on a budget and actually tried to pass a budget,” he said. “I think it’s more political theater than anything. . . . It’s been 756 days since they proposed and passed a budget. And what is our big crisis today? A budget crisis. You’d think if they wanted to be leaders, they would actually try to lead.”