LANSING, Mich., Dec. 7 -- The Michigan Democratic Party issued the following news release:
Former Congressman, lobby firm employee and U.S. Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra today further aligned himself with the effort to end Medicare and slash Social Security benefits for seniors. Hoekstra reportedly will accept the endorsement of Republican Congressman Paul Ryan, whose 2011 budget proposal would end Medicare and make seniors pay double for health insurance-while protecting billions in giveaways to special interests like major oil companies. Hoekstra has said he supports the Ryan plan, but wants to go further and slash Social Security as well, like Ryan's 2010 budget proposal did.
"Hoekstra is making very clear that if he is elected one of his major objectives will be to end Medicare and gut Social Security," said Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer. "The plan Paul Ryan and Pete Hoekstra are fighting for would double seniors' health insurance costs while giving millionaires another huge tax cut and protecting billions in giveaways for special interests. Hoekstra's philosophy is not surprising for a guy who works for special interests at a D.C. lobbying firm, but it would be extremely harmful for middle class seniors and families."
The Paul Ryan budget of 2011 would effectively end Medicare as we know it. Under the plan, seniors would no longer receive the Medicare coverage they receive today. Instead, seniors would be forced to purchase health insurance on the private market, and would get a coupon to help pay the high premiums. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says under the plan the average senior would pay double what they now pay for health insurance every year, or an extra $6,000 annually. Ryan readily admits his plan would require seniors to pay more.
But while Ryan and Hoekstra claim that we need to end Medicare in order to help reduce the deficit, they use the money saved by making seniors pay more not to reduce the deficit-but to fund another huge tax cut for millionaires. The Ryan/Hoekstra plan would cut the tax rate for the wealthiest Americans from 36% to 25%. It also protects taxpayer giveaways to special interests, including billions in tax breaks for big oil companies. CBO estimates that the Ryan budget makes average cuts of $165 billion per year in Medicare, and then gives most of that, $131 billion, to millionaires and Big Oil companies in tax breaks.
Of the Ryan budget, Hoekstra has said, "I would've supported his budget. The problem with Paul's budget is that he didn't get it balanced for 28 years. You've got to actually be more aggressive. You can do that by - he didn't do anything with Social Security. You gotta raise the age of retirement. I would do more means testing. I know it's against the core of Social Security, everybody gets back what they paid in, but the bottom line is, it's not normal times."
While Ryan's 2011 budget did not slash Social Security, his 2010 proposal did and Hoekstra supported that as well. Hoekstra also repeatedly supported cutting Social Security and Medicare while he was in Congress, including supporting George W. Bush's plan to give seniors' Social Security benefits to financial firms on Wall Street. If Hoekstra would've have gotten his way and Social Security had been privatized in 2005, billions in Social Security benefits would have been lost during the financial meltdown of 2008.
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