Senate Democrats intensified pressure on the controversial budget plan submitted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) today, forcing a floor vote that saw moderate Republicans join Democrats in rejecting the measure.
Ryan's plan has become a lightning rod because of its proposal to drastically restructure Medicare, shifting the popular entitlement program towards private vouchers. Initially hailed as a bold mechanism for budget reduction, the proposal has since met with fierce criticism.
Republican candidate Jane Corwin's loss yesterday in a special election in New York's traditionally Republican 26th district was interpreted by some as a voter backlash against the plan, with Corwin's opponent mounting an aggressive campaign of ads condemning it.
The GOP's plan to change Medicare would have phased out Medicare as a fee-for-service system and replace it with a private insurance program backed by government subsidies. People 55 and older would not be affected by the plan.
The three reasons a Democrat was elected to Congress in the district were Medicare, Medicare and Medicare, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel, D-N.Y., said in an interview with the Washington Post.
Hochul, the Erie County clerk, turned the campaign into a referendum on the Medicare plan after House Republicans approved the proposal as a way to curb deficit spending in Washington. The proposal was one Republican Corwin supported.
We can balance our budget the right way and not on the backs of our seniors, Hochul said at her victory party. We had the issues on our side-did we not have right issues on our side?
Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer of New York praised Hochul as a great candidate, saying in a statement that the outcome was proof that New Yorkers of all political persuasions do not want to destroy Medicare.
Republican Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska joined Democrats in voting against the measure, which failed 57-40. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) voted against the plan for different reasons, saying its cuts were not large enough.