North Country Congressman Bill Owens lashed out at Republicans’ plan to reduce the federal deficit while backing President Obama’s. Speaking in a telephone town hall meeting, the Democrat from Plattsburgh attacked House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan’s deficit reduction plan.
His continued cuts in taxes for the wealthy, for companies that ship jobs overseas, for privatizing social security is moving us in the wrong direction. This is not an attempt to help all of our citizens. This is an attempt to help a very few of our citizens.
The Ryan plan would cut 6 trillion dollars from the federal deficit. It would continue the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy. And it would replace Medicare, the popular federal health care program for seniors, with a voucher system.
More than 20,000 people rang in to Owens’ tele-town hall, more than double the numbers of previous calls. Owens said that was because people are concerned about the future of Medicare. Many who asked questions helped Owens make his case, like Nancy, a dairy farmer from Gouverneur.
We farmed it for 36 years and we can survive. But I’m talking to people, elderly people, what are we going to do? These people are down and out. They don’t know where to go. But you know what, I think the rich should start paying a little bit to help those people out.
Owens didn’t offer much detail on how he would rein in the spiraling costs of Medicare and Medicaid. He said more preventive care would drive down costs by keeping people out of the hospital. In his plan announced Wednesday, President Obama said he would largely keep Medicare intact and allow the Bush tax cuts to expire.
Owens was also asked how he’ll vote on raising the federal debt ceiling. He said he’s likely to vote in favor, as long as long-term debt reduction is part of the plan.
I fully support the idea that we need to reduce spending. We need to focus on the debt. But we may create some real difficult economic conditions if, in fact, we don’t move forward with raising the debt limit.
Owens referred back to the high federal debt following World War 2. He said that took 50 years to bring in line. Owens said with two wars and coming out of a recession, America has to take a similar long-term approach to deficit reduction.