Weiner Takes on Ryan and Shutdown

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Welcome to Politics Bites, where every afternoon at It's A Free Country, we bring you the unmissable quotes from the morning's political conversations on WNYC. Today on the Brian Lehrer Show, US Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY 9th) talks about Paul Ryan's budget proposal and the prospects of a government shutdown in the next two days.

Weiner said the fault of the looming shutdown lies in the "relatively big noise being made by a relatively small number of Tea Party activists, which frankly I don't really believe want a deal."

Ideological differences are roiling the Republican party (according to the New York Democrat).

I don't think the two sides are far apart on the numbers so there has to be something broad and ideological that's keep this from happening, and my view from the inside is its this battle for the soul of the Republican party and the tea party activists are winning it.

Weiner philosophized that some Republicans in the house have a "nihilist streak" leading them to crave seeing the government shut down. He said they are purposely making the debate about contentious issues rather than big chunks of the budget like defense spending.

If you look at the things the Republicans want they're not budget things, they're things like shutting down NPR, de-funding Planned Parenthood which doesn't get any funds for abortions anyway, stopping the EPA from regulating the environment. I mean these are ideological fights that they're wrapping up in a short term debate. I think if you really want a deal you don't try to mix those things in because they are kind of are black and white issues for a lot of people.

Ryan's budget is 'same old, same old' from GOP.

As for the House Republican chairman Paul Ryan's 10 year budget plan released on Wednesday, Weiner says it does not deserve accolades.  Weiner said the plan is not "serious" about reducing debt and criticized the cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.

The Medicaid piece is the one most troubling to those of us in New York, because really all he's doing, he's cutting about 750 billion dollars from Medicaid, it's not as if the bill fairy is going to pay for those health care costs. They're going to be shifted somewhere and in this case it's going to be shifted to cities like New York, States like New York, and individual taxpayers. Because we still have the same obligation to provide health care to people, we're not going to let people pile up on the streets.

He saw the plan as the same old Republican political message.

I dispute that it's a very courageous document. In fact it's basically the same kind of political things we've heard from this party for a long time, they're not particularly fond of Medicare, they have real contempt for Medicaid, yet they don't have any ideas of how to reduce costs on their own, all it's doing is cost shifting.

Fight, fight!

At the same time, Weiner lavishes the battle with the GOP and said the Democratic leadership should be pushing back strongly.

We should embrace this fight, let's have a full throated discussion about why Medicare exists, let's have a discussion about whether or not we should be cutting an additional nearly trillion dollars for millionaires and billionaires who have gone through this period of remarkable success.

 Meanwhile, a day a half to go before shutdown.


Congressman Anthony Weiner


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Comments [27]

wahomeowner from Washington state

We need more people like Anthony Weiner: in depth knowledge of the issues, knows the rules, puts the American people first, engaging articulate speaker, and doesn't back down. Many in congress are no longer representative of the public interest. Paul Ryan is just a prettier face than Palin or Backmann. Unfortunately the GOP is relying on packing rather than substance to sell their product. Neither Palin or Bachmann could actually sell important legislation.

Apr. 08 2011 10:57 AM
Rene Norton from Miami, FL

Sure don't want more private insurance profits sucking the life out of health dollars. I liked Howard Dean's idea, let us all buy into medicare. It's single payer. Already set up. On Ryan's plan about dropping (vouchering) anyone under 55, how about we just tax all dollars, instead of the $62k max Fight Fire with Fire!.. Obama's greatest error was extending the Bush Tax cuts, could have used those chips now. Instead we have to fight with a butter knife till 2010

Apr. 08 2011 06:17 AM
bushwacker from nv

Ryan could have worked on this budget for 5 years, that does not make it right.
Take money from medicare, give more tax breaks to milliomairs. Economic expertise, tedious number crunching, attention to detail. Therefore, he must be right about everything. No other noted economists or the CBO would disagree.
He is also a republican. What kind of a plan did you expect? Make big corporations who pay no tax and in fact get rebates pay a little bit of tax?
And what was the reason Weiner requested a waiver? You left that part out.

Apr. 08 2011 01:59 AM

I hope you've noticed that Ryan's plan simply extends Obamacare -- ironically -- to everyone by privatizing medicare, essentially shifting costs to the people. The "growth" of medicare is usually said to have happened because of the baby boomers, who now live longer. But why do they live longer? In fact, medicare has subsidized a whole ecology of health R&D as well as health care provision for the elderly. To slash medicare will hurt the economy in ways we don't expect -- hospitals and drug companies will earn less and cut jobs, because seniors won't get care, because they can't afford it.The only ones to do well will be private insurance companies. We should be going the opposite way!! -- we should have a single government payer -- medicare for everyone -- which would encourage R&D and healthy living for everyone. People will get care when they need it, rather than getting sicker. We should NOT support the insurance companies whose only reason for existence is to take our premiums and avoid paying for health care.

Apr. 07 2011 04:21 PM
lewis & Jeri kaye Schindler from Forest Hills New York

topic: Medicare.. the physician we have been going to for almost 25 years has opted out of Medicare.. the diabetes specialist in the same office..same opting out.. We have been using Medicare and AARP wraparound .What do we do now ? .would like this topic to be fully addressed on your wonderful program.
Todays program on Medicare just touched on some of the problems.. would so appreciate an indepth segment .. Perhaps you can have
Congressman Wiener(we like him so much!) return to specifically
address this problem.. we love you and your
wonderful program.. You are terrific .. Cool
Brian Lehrer! xoxoxoxoxo

Apr. 07 2011 01:25 PM

I really wish Brian would quit referring to Rep. Ryan as "courageous" or taking a "courageous first step" referring to his plan.

Rep. Ryan is in a 90% white, predominantly white-collar district. His re-election is almost a shoo-in, Ryan being the incumbent since 1999.

It sounds like he is playing to his base. Courage would call for him to go far beyond that. Courage would require Rep. Ryan to look beyond his district and narrow self interest.

Perhaps, instead of being "courageous", Ryan is actually foolish.

Apr. 07 2011 12:55 PM
Ken from Little neck

As long as heath care is managed by for-profit companies, costs will continue to skyrocket. Why is this so hard to understand? When the primary objective is to make as much money as possible, the only incentive for insurance companies is to charge more for less coverage. The only reason to promote private, for-profit health care is the wish to make the executives at those companies even richer.

Apr. 07 2011 10:46 AM
Gene Detroyer from NYC

The objective of Medicare is to provide healthcare. The objective of the health insurance companies is to make money. Privatizing Medicare will either drive health care costs up, cut healthcare benefits or lay more and more of the cost on the retured individuals.

We are providers that take insurance and these companies are a necessary evil at this point. There is no doubt that they will do whatever the can get away with to not pay providers and patients.

Apr. 07 2011 10:34 AM
DrSteveA from NY, NY

Ryan and alas even Lehrer keep pretending that "competition" from private insurers has any ability to reduce costs.

Economists have known this is false since 1963, and the privatiztion that came to be known as Medicare Advantage proved it false in the 1990s-2010 with increases in cost of about 15% compared to governement-only Medicare.

The only thing insurers compete on is to avoid covering sick people. That is it. No savings in actual provision of care for sick people.

Expanding Medicare to all, single payer, universal tax based insurance with everybody in and nobody out, spread the risk pool to all Americans, without adverse selection... this is the only economically valid solution (along with other needed reforms such as evidenced based medicine, medical home and non-profit accountable care).

Apr. 07 2011 10:29 AM
Bill from New Rochelle

GOP / Ryan Plan?

Old? DIE!

Apr. 07 2011 10:25 AM
Hugh Sansom

@Martin Chuzzlewit -- What Paul Ryan economic experience? What on earth are you talking about? He was a speechwriter and an aide.

Paul Krugman shreds the mythology about Ryan's "economic experience" here:

Apr. 07 2011 10:23 AM
Dr Steve from NY, NY

The Federal deficit is a false issue, pushed as an excuse to cut taxesh, and to further deregulate and not enforce the rule of law, all for the wealthy and corporate.

The number one issue in America is inequality and 30+ years of income and wealth stagnation for 95% of the U.S. population. Every Republican, conservative, neoliberal (centrist Democratic) policy for the past 30+ years has been class warfare against 95% of the U.S. population.

Real progressive Democrats would be calling for increasing taxes on the wealthy and real taxes on the corporate, increased EITC, increased minimum wage and wage enforcement and labor organizing rights.

Apr. 07 2011 10:22 AM
Susan from NYC

The Ryan plan is just an extension of the Obama plan to the elderly. Obama's utter failure to support a very strong public option, such as Medicare for All, is a disaster. Now we are facing Medicare for None. What we really need is a single-payer system, like every other civilized nation on earth, but without some public option any "reform" is just Potemkin healthcare.

Apr. 07 2011 10:22 AM
Peter from Brooklyn

The conversation has been systematically drawn right; Clinton brought Democrats to be Republicans -- pro business, small gov't; Obama is sliding us toward being conservatives, no regs, oligarchy. They were/are both good leaders and better than Republican alternatives would have been, but neither is voicing the ideals of Weiner, Kucinich -- always described as too far out, communist, whatever. We need to draw lines in the sand and repeat the truth relentlessly to overcome the distortion on the right. It's getting so close to Orwell's 1984 that it's terrifying. Why do people matter so little in our Republican-dominated society?

Apr. 07 2011 10:21 AM
Charles Harris from Island Hts NJ

I have the basis for a new health care plan, I have tried to approach Weiner, Adler, walked the floors of the senate bldgs but failed to be able to talk to one health care person, written to Brian Lehrer and never got an answer. Perhaps if you allowed thde public into your inner circles some new ideas would emeerge.


Apr. 07 2011 10:21 AM
Robert from NYC

Although he may not take it this way but I really like and support Rep Weiner and would like to have him run for President... against Barak Obama in 2012.

Apr. 07 2011 10:21 AM

It is time that doctors treat the people in the community at what ever age. Like teachers, doctors are in the business of caring for people, not picking and choosing which people in the community deserve their services. If they wanted to be billionnaires, they should have become Wall Street bankers or software developers.

Apr. 07 2011 10:20 AM
Hugh Sansom

Congressman Weiner makes an _extremely_ important point that Democrats -- for some reason -- rarely make. Medicare (and Social Security) is _extremely_ efficient -- far, far more efficient than _any_ private corporation in the US. No private corporation (certainly none of the Fortune 1000) have overhead costs below 2%, which both Medicare and Social Security do.

IF the Republicans (and many Democrats) were right, then all European nations should have far higher health costs. But _all_ European nations have lower health care costs. All have far more extensive public health systems than the US.

Republicans and most Democrats pretend Europeans get poorer care. This blatantly wrong on the facts, which is why we heard Julie Povner on NPR this morning _ignoring_ the European example..... It utterly demolishes the lies of the GOP and the health insurers.

Apr. 07 2011 10:19 AM

Paul Ryan's-GOP-Job-Crushing Budget is not courageous -- IT'S STUPID & Shows Paul Ryan Fails basic math.

Ryan's-GOP-Job-Crushing Budget Will:
- Increase the US DEBT &
- Causes 700,000 Non-Government Jobs To Be LOST
- Thereby increasing Unemployment Rate

Ryan & GOP Want To CRUSH & Eliminate Middle Class - That's NOT Courageous, that's mean and stupid.

Apr. 07 2011 10:18 AM
Steve from NY, NY

Congressman Weiner supports many progressive positions, but (like his mentor Senator Schumer) he is notably out of line with the mainstream in his views with regards to peace for Israel and the Palestinians and the fundenmental illegality of the occupation and settlements.

Does Congressman Weiner support the Israeli Peace Initiative announced this week by 50 prominent Israeli leaders including former head of the Military and Security Forces?

Does he support the Geneva Initiative supported by leading Israelis and Palestinians which has details of how to solve all problems including Jerusalem fairly.

Is there any Israeli settlement or occupation activity that he would take a stand against? Is there any position by Likud that he will not endorse?

Will Congressman Weiner acknowledge that J Street ( ) is a mainstream American Jewish organization?

Apr. 07 2011 10:16 AM

Ryan represents the wealthy in this country who wants to dismantle the medicare system which many of us have paid into for years. I will fight these jackals tooth and nail. They represent the worst of America!

Apr. 07 2011 10:15 AM
Katie Kennedy from Huntington, NY


Apr. 07 2011 10:14 AM
Ken from Little Neck

A heartfelt thank you to Rep. Weiner for telling it like it is! We need more democrats like him who actually believe in progressive values and are willing to fight for them!

Apr. 07 2011 10:13 AM
Gary from Upper Left Side

Here's a ditty I wrote inspired by the Oscar Mayer jingle:

I wish I were an Anthony Weiner
That's what I would truly love to be
Because if I were an Anthony Weiner
I could pretend to be the mayor of NYC

Oh, I wish I were an Anthony Weiner
That's what I would truly love to do
Because if I were an Anthony Weiner
I could tax the hell out of you

Apr. 07 2011 10:08 AM

Paul Ryan's GOP Job Crushing Budget Ends Entitlements Yet STILL Increases the Debt - anybody know why?

Ans: Because spending is NOT the problem - lack of Revenue is the Problem ... meaning Tax Cuts do NOT reduce Debt nor do they (tax cuts) increase jobs.

Apr. 07 2011 09:55 AM
Paul from Jersey City

President Obama's health care reform act gave me hope that I would be able to purchase affordable health care insurance as an individual subscriber. The current legislative environment puts that hope in jeopardy. I am deeply concerned that I will not be able to afford insurance as I approach Medicare eligibility.

Apr. 07 2011 09:38 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Please, this is ridiculous.... let's frame this correctly.....Weiner doesn't "take on" Paul Ryan.

Paul Ryan works 5 months on a detailed alternative budget ,like it or not, that draws on his considerable economic experience, attention to detail, and much tedious number crunching.

Anthony Weiner, our resident loud mouth, jumps up onto the soap box that WNYC provides (undeservedly) and tries to appear to be a major player and an astute economic observer....presumably from his days as an aborted meteoroogical sciences major at SUNY. This is akin to the podium Weiner was given here when he was a shil for ObamaCare during its "debate"...... a law that he is now requesting a waiver from for New York.
That this guy is likely to be the next mayor of this great city is a travesty. What happened to us? I didn't move to New York to be governed by this self-aggrandizing pretender.

Apr. 07 2011 09:16 AM

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