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Duckworth, Walsh Argue Over Medicare Spending In First Congressional Debate

In their first debate, Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) and his Democratic competitor Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran, clashed over the budget debate that is dividing Congress. Among the issues debated, Walsh and Duckworth accused each other of trying to destroy Medicare.

Duckworth correctly pointed out that approving Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget proposal would end Medicare as we know it, but Walsh insisted that passing massive tax cuts for the rich would help save Medicare, according to the Chicago Sun-Times:

Duckworth continued: “You are on the front lines, giving money to people who don’t need it. Why are you so obsessed with ending Medicare? You call it a ‘Ponzi scheme.’”

“Tammy, I want to save it!” Walsh interjected. “Every Republican and Democrat in D.C. knows it’s gone in 10 years. What do you propose to do?

“I propose to end the tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires to pay for it,” Duckworth said.

“Oh, Holy Cow, I would much rather be standing with a plan than with a president who has ignored Medicare,” Walsh told Duckworth. “If you’re going to continue down this road as the president is and say, ‘I’m just going to ignore Medicare,’ you, my dear, are ending it as we know it. And that is so wrong.”

Ryan’s budget plan would dramatically reshape Medicare and charge seniors more: led by Ryan, House Republicans voted to cut funds to Medicare, Medicaid, and other social programs so that they could protect defense spending. The Washington Post reports that Ryan’s plan is still a difficult issue on the campaign trail as Democrats continue to attack Republicans for supporting the plan.

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But even if it may be proving a difficult topic for congressional Republicans, likely GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has staked out the same budget plan as Ryan.