By Ryan Ekvall | Wisconsin Reporter
JANESVILLE — U.S. Senate hopeful Tammy Baldwin denounced fellow U.S. House member Paul Ryan’s budget proposal, aiming much of her criticism of Ryan’s plan for Medicare in the 1st District Republican’s hometown.
“This does end the guarantee of traditional Medicare as we know it for the next generation of retirees,” Baldwin, a Madison Democrat who represents the 2nd District, said of Ryan’s $3.5-trillion federal budget plan, which the GOP-controlled House recently passed.
Ryan’s proposal reduces future projected Medicare spending increases by $500 billion over the next 10 years, creates a voucher system and gradually increases the age of eligibility for future Medicare recipients.
Speaking to about 75 mostly elderly residents at Janesville’s Union Labor Temple, Baldwin described her personal battle with the U.S. health-care system.
“When I was 9 years old, I had a very serious childhood illness … and my grandfather had insurance. But when the hospital bills came … the family insurance covered dependents … but not grandchildren,” Baldwin said.
“If that weren’t enough,” she said, because of her pre-existing condition, “at 9 years old, they could not find insurance to cover me at any price.”
President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the national health-care law, prevents a health insurance company from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions.
A campaign spokesman for one of Baldwin’s Republican competitors for the Wisconsin U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Herb Kohl derided Baldwin’s criticism.
“Paul Ryan has had the courage to put forth a detailed plan, and all Tammy Baldwin can do is attack, attack, attack,” said Chip Englander, former 1st District U.S. Rep. Mark Neumann’s campaign manager. “What’s her plan? Higher taxes and growing government even faster than Barack Obama. It’s ridiculous.”
Englander took the opportunity to note Neumann’s plan to balance the budget in five years through the repeal of the health-care law and doing away with or trimming 150 government programs.
Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, who also is seeking the GOP nomination in the U.S. Senate contest, previously endorsed Ryan’s budget overhaul, dubbed “Path to Prosperity,” and introduced his own budget reform proposal.
“We are beyond the point of doing nothing. We must make difficult and painful decisions now in order to create a brighter future for our children and grandchildren,” Thompson said in an earlier statement.
Medicare accounted for $486 billion, or 13.3 percent, of U.S. spending last year.