U.S. Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattburgh, said that the House GOP budget proposal would shift the tax burden from the wealthy to the Middle Class.
“I find this budget to be really wholly unacceptable and unfortunately a messaging document rather than a serious negotiating proposal,” Owens said in a conference call with reporters on Friday.
Owens said that any realistic budget proposal needs to have a combination of spending cuts and new revenue.
“I think that this budget just simply does not get the job done. This really is an attempt to shift the entire burden of government from wealthy folks -- whether you consider that somebody making over $250,000 or over $500,000 -- to literally all the rest of our friends and neighbors,” said Owens, who is running for re-election in the new 21st Congressional District which includes Warren, Washington and northern Saratoga counties.
“One of the more troubling aspects is that it would essentially end Medicare as we know it and make it into a voucher system -- which is not a cost-cutting system. It is simply a cost-shifting arrangement, because who would pick it up would be the beneficiaries of Medicare,” Owens said. “What we need to be focussed on are the things that are going to drive down the cost of Medicare, not those things which are simply going to shift the cost.”
The GOP budget plan that Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin largely crafted would replace traditional Medicare for those currently under 55 with a system under which the federal government provides subsidies for recipients to buy coverage from private plans when they become eleigibile for Medicare.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has endorsed the plan, which House GOP leadership has said would reduce U.S. deficits by $3.1 trillion over the next decade, the Associated Press has reported.
Matt Doheny, one of two candidates seeking the Republican nomination to challenge Owens in November, would not comment on the House GOP budget plan on Friday because he was still reviewing it, said Jude Seymour, a Doheny campaign spokesman. The plan was unveiled earlier last week.
“It’s a 98-page document. This is quite possibly one of the most important things that he has to review for the entire campaign. So he’s going to take his time with it. He’s going to give it careful review,” Seymour said.
“I want to say that we’d be ready at the beginning of next week, but to be honest with you I want him to take the time. So I can’t give you a firm time line on that,” Seymour continued. “Suffice it to say that there will be a point in the future in which the Ryan budget is obviously discussed. We can’t get to November without talking about the Ryan budget. I don’t know if that’s going to be Monday. And it’s certainly not going to be Friday or Saturday.”
Kellie Greene, the other Republican candidate, did not return voice mail messages left Friday afternoon and Sunday afternoon seeking comment for this report.
Owens, in the conference call on Friday, said crop insurance would take “substantial hits,” and that student loan programs and veterans programs would be “negatively impacted,” under the House GOP budget proposal.
“There are some things that I do agree with,” he said, citing proposals to revamp the Internal Revenue code, eliminate tax expenditures and bring “more transparency” in the budget process.
Owens said he is “greatly troubled” by language about how spending cuts would be determined.
“It says ultimately the committees will be responsible for determining how to meet their reconciliation instructions,” he said. “In other words, what will happen here is the budget will not contain specific cuts. It will be up to the committees to reach and make that determination. But they will be capped out at what ever (dollar amount) the budget committee decides the number is going to be.”