Issue #2: The Ryan Budget and the Turner Example

The House just voted to pass Paul Ryan’s budget plan, with 10 Republicans, most of them concerned that the plan didn’t go far enough, voting “No”. A key component of the Ryan plan would be a transformation of Medicare from a defined-benefit plan to a defined-premium plan. In other words, those under 55 would be given a voucher to purchase insurance instead of the current coverage of Medicare. Since the Ryan plan would roll back Obamacare, the independent, non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has also shown that the number of uninsured would go up, in addition to the amount being spent on Medicare going down.

The Ryan plan also cut taxes for millionaires by somewhere in the neighborhood of $150,000 per year, or more, depending on underlying assumptions (here’s a think tank report that estimates it at $187,000/year).

Slaughter is on the record opposing the Ryan plan, having made a six-minute speech on the floor of the House where she calls it “morally bankrupt”. Louise pegs the tax break at a whopping $300,000. Since the whole thing is based on estimates, there’s no benefit in Slaughter’s opponent quibbling with her math, since doing so just highlights the fact that Republicans passed another tax break for the rich.

Clearly the Ryan plan is not good political news for a Republican trying to run as a moderate. Brooks has ducked comment, going as far to characterize it as one of the “inside the Beltway” issues that she’s not going to concern herself with immediately. That’s not going to hold up. But, even if Brooks says she wouldn’t have voted for it, the logical follow-up is why voters should believe her. Bob Turner, who won Anthony Weiner’s old seat in part by pledging to vote against the Ryan budget, voted for it this week. That kind of reversal a few short months after being elected is certainly something the Slaughter campaign will highlight in ads later this year.