President Obama and fellow Democrats are keeping up their argument that fiscal conservatives want set to slash entitlements for the country’s “greatest generation” to balance the budget for the country's greatest generations, despite no apparent plan.
The most recent was Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu who last week acknowledged that entitlement spending on such programs as Medicare has contributed largely to a growing federal budget but continued to argue against steep cuts.
“The greatest generation that gave us the greatest nation the world has ever heard is dying and they need hospice care," she said Tuesday on the Senate floor. "They need Social Security. They need hospitals. And if they want to cut them go right ahead. I'm going to be a little more gentle.”
Landrieu’s remarks echoed those by President Obama during his inauguration speech.
“We reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future,” Obama said to applause. “They do not make us a nation of takers. They free us to take the risks that make this country great.”
Republicans argue they have not put forth a plan to take away benefits to Americans already in the system and that has never been their plan – much like they did against similar attacks by the Obama campaign during the elections.
“No one is suggesting that Medicare and Social Security makes you a taker. These are people like my mom who worked hard, paid her taxes and now is collecting a benefit that she paid for. No one is suggesting people like my mom is a taker,” Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, the House Budget chairman and the Republican Party’s 2012 vice-presidential nominee, told NBC a few weeks ago.
Ryan also argued against the suggestion that his budget includes “savage cuts” to food stamps, children’s health care and other services for the less fortunate.
“This is the straw man argument,” Ryan continued. “The president said … that we have suspicions about Medicare and taking care of the elderly and feeding poor children. When he sets up these straw men, which is to affix views to his adversaries that they don’t have, to win the argument by default, it’s not really an honest debate.”
The Wisconsin congressman, who as a teen received Social Security benefits when his father died, said Republicans simply want to make sure only those eligible for food stamps receive them.
He also argued Republicans want a budget with a “safety net” for the most vulnerable Americans and those struck by misfortune and hardship. But they don’t want a culture that encourages more dependency that “saps and drains people of their ability to make the most of their lives.”
Republican lawmakers during recent fiscal negotiations agreed to tax increases in exchange for Democrats cutting entitlement programs.
However, they said the next round will be about how to balance the federal budget in 10 years with just spending cuts -- in exchange for them recently agreeing to a three-month extension of federal borrowing powers.
House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi called the new Republican goal “Ryan on steroids,” according to The Los Angeles Times.
Ryan’s earlier budgets proposals called for converting Medicare into a “premium support program” in which the federal government would spend a specific amount for beneficiaries' care, compared to the existing system in which the government helps pay for each of their doctor visits and medical services.
His proposals, which have the support of most House Republicans, also call for making states run Medicaid, the federal health-care program for the poor.