A polarizing shift in the presidential campaign is the result of Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan being selected as the vice presidential running mate of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, said Tom Guild, an Edmond Democrat vying for Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District.
Guild is running a grass-roots campaign to defeat incumbent Republican Congressman James Lankford’s re-election effort when voters go to the ballot on Nov. 6. Two Independent candidates, Pat Martin of Jones and Norman resident Robert T. Murphy, are also running for the 5th District.
“Ryan is the one who authored a budget in 2012 that kills Medicare as we know it and turns it into a voucher system,” Guild said. “The ramifications of that are the people under the Ryan plan would pay 68 percent of the cost of their medical care when they’re 65 and older. On the current system, they would pay 25 percent.”
Lankford serves with Ryan on the House Committee on Budget, in which Ryan serves as chairman. He said Romney has not brought in a leader who will play second fiddle, sit and do nothing. Ryan brings problem-solving ideas for the future of the country, Lankford said.
“I think he’s a fantastic choice for who he is and also his background and perspective,” Lankford said. “Also he really has worked in his district in Wisconsin that consistently votes Democrat for president but has elected Paul Ryan as this very staunch conservative, year after year, because he works with Democrats and Republicans on issues of ideas.”
Lankford said anybody who reads the 2012 House budget plan will see that it preserves Social Security and makes no changes for anyone in Medicare or approaching Medicare. Ryan, along with Democrat Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, co-authored a bipartisan plan to reform Medicare.
“It says that for those individuals 55 or younger, there will be two options,” Lankford explained. “There will be traditional Medicare there. You can go into the same Medicare that has been there for a long time, or you can get a premium support plan, which allows you to be able to select from multiple options.
“So if you don’t want to be trapped as your only option for your health care provision as being government-offered Medicare plan, you could also have other options that can compete for it.”
Everyone knows Medicare is in severe financial trouble, Lankford said. Nobody until Ryan has been willing to create a plan to protect and save Medicare, Lankford said.
Most people reach retirement age with a savings less than $50,000, Guild said. Individuals 54 or younger would have to save an additional $180,000 to pay for a huge cost of the medical care at the age of 65 or older, Guild said of the Ryan plan. Ryan’s plan for Medicare will devastate the grandchildren and children regardless of their political party, Guild said.
“People currently 44 years old would have to save an additional $287,000 to pay the additional cost of their health care after they turn 65, under the Ryan plan,” Guild continued.
Guild said the Ryan plan would be regressive for seniors by taking them back to “the bad old days before Medicare” when 30 percent of senior adults were living in poverty. They couldn’t afford the cost of medical care, Guild said. The security of Medicare has minimized the number of impoverished seniors to 7.5 percent today, he said.
“More than half of seniors didn’t have any health care at all before Medicare,” Guild said.
Ryan’s ideas to reform Medicare and Social Security will pit generation against generation, Guild said.
Lankford voted twice in favor of the Ryan budget which favors privatizing Social Security, Guild said.
“Some of the early versions of Ryan’s proposals were going to put the money in the stock market,” Guild said. “Of course we had a stock market crash two or three months after President Obama took office.”
Taking entire generations out of the Social Security system will de-fund Social Security, leaving insufficient funds to pay for benefits for people 65 and older, Guild added. Social Security works because people pay for it during their entire working lives, he said.
“When you hear people talk about the Ryan plan killing Social Security, there’s nothing in the budget about Social Security,” Lankford said. “There’s no change in it at all. It deals with the largest of the social service issues which is Medicare.”
A 30-member steering committee, including the speaker of the House, would select a new budget chairman if Romney is elected president, Lankford said. The selection would be made after the Nov. 6 election.
Ryan is also up for re-election to his House seat.
“I would not be surprised if Paul runs for re-election to his seat at the same time he is running for vice president,” Lankford said. “That is the same thing that Sen. Joe Lieberman did years ago when he was running (as vice president) with Al Gore for president.
Martin said Romney is not his choice for the Republican nomination as he favors Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas.
“His selection of a running mate in Ryan — I’m not real impressed with him. I’ve seen him on the same tier as Lankford, quite honestly,” Martin said.
Neither Ryan or Lankford are doing much to eliminate waste in government, Martin said.
“I wasn’t a big supporter of the Ryan budget plan. I know James Lankford was,” Martin said. “So in general, I wish him luck but he’s certainly not my pick.”
Murphy said Ryan emphasizes the reduction of social programs and increasing the payments to the military-industrial complex. The government is wasting lives by protecting corporate assets overseas, he said.
“This puts him in the neo con (neo conservative) camp and someone to who I am bitterly opposed,” Murphy said. “I think we need to cut the military much sooner and much faster than we cut any social program because the way the economy is so screwed up, we’re going to have people in bread lines in another year or two.”
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