Freshman Rep. Cravaack Defends Medicare Vote

CAMBRIDGE, Minn. (AP) — U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack explained his vote in favor of a Republican budget plan to a small crowd attending a town hall meeting Wednesday night, saying he wants to protect future generations of Americans from massive debt.

The freshman Republican showed the 50 people at the town hall a number of slides in a Power Point presentation. They contained detailed financial information on Medicare, Social Security and U.S. debt.

Cravaack painted a grim picture of the consequences of current government spending. He said Americans don’t have enough freedom when the nation’s debt is owned by countries such as China.

He said if spending doesn’t change, the U.S. will end up facing the same economic issues as Greece and Portugal.

“This is what we’ll be handing off to our children or grandchildren if we don’t do something now,” Cravaack said.

Terry Bell, 62, of Cambridge, criticized the slides for being inaccurate. He asked Cravaack to point out the last time Republicans produced a balanced budget.

“Your party has added to the deficit ever since the Ford administration,” Bell said. “The only time you get the least bit concerned is when the Democratic Party gets in.”

Other audience members defended Republicans and criticized spending under the Obama administration. One audience member encouraged Cravaack to think about transportation funding for the state’s aging roadway system.

Cravaack said he wants to lower the corporate tax rate to 25 percent, which he said is the global average. That would attract overseas companies back to the U.S., he said. He said he wanted the same rate for small businesses.

“We hold the Minnesota work ethic,” he said. “You start increasing taxes on businesses, people are telling me, `You increase my taxes and I’m done.”‘

Cravaack voted in favor of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget bill. A series of ads accused Cravaack of voting to end Medicare. Other ads supported him, saying he voted to protect the program for future retirees. As Medicare currently exists, it will go bankrupt by 2020, Cravaack said. He said the budget plan he supports would sustain Medicare for future generations, as well as erasing the nation’s debt by 2050.

The bill would subsidize coverage as-needed for individuals, with the indigent or chronically ill getting more assistance.

“You hear the mantra `Make the rich pay more.’ That’s exactly what this plan does,” Cravaack said. “If you’re the Warren Buffetts of the world, if you’re the Bill Gates of the world, guess what? You’re going to be paying more money.”

The Cambridge visit was the third town hall meeting Cravaack has hosted in Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District, which covers portions of 18 counties in northeastern Minnesota.

Tom Krueger, 73, of Cambridge, asked Cravaack what areas he plans to attack to cut spending.

“You’re voted in by this constituency,” Krueger said. “You need to take a stand.”

Cravaack singled out the Department of Education and the Department of Energy.

“It’s time we take local control of our schools,” he said.

After the meeting, Krueger said he was impressed by Cravaack’s work in Congress. He said he was struck by Cravaack’s claim that he would lose his job to defend his beliefs.

Cravaack won his seat by defeating 18-term incumbent Democrat Jim Oberstar last November. Former Democratic state Sen. Tarryl Clark said earlier this month she plans to run against Cravaack in 2012 for his seat in the 8th District.

“Whoever the DFL decides to run in 2012, I’ll run against them,” Cravaack told The Associated Press in an interview before the meeting. “I’ll stick with the issues.”

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Tom Hasbrouck

    Liar, Liar, Liar.

    • Lenny

      well thought out comment.

    • jimmy

      Did you get the part that said small crowd. I’m guessing Cravaack, Krueger, and the reporter. Of course there will sure be a conservative talking about the billions and billions of folks that were there.

      • Lenny

        they stated in the article 50 people.

  • solly

    Cravaack, when speaking to high school students in northern Minnesota, was asked by a student why he supports cuts to higher education. His response was that students would appreciate their educations more if they shouldered more of the financial burden. Of course, we never hear about these sessions in the news or those in Wisconsin when Paul Ryan was critically questioned by older citizens.
    The news media is owned by the wealthy and presents conservative or reactionary views. Unfortunately, so many people get their news from brief soundbites and do not delve into the issues.

    • Lenny

      The main stream media is by ALL accounts left leaning.

  • Pat

    Cravaack continues to blurt the need for the privatization of Medicare and Medicaide, as if those programs are not essential to the lives of millions of elderly Americans.

    He says that we can privatize the programs and allow the elderly to fend for themselves in the free market, just like Congressmen have the right to do today. What Cravaack and his Republican breatheren don’t mention is that the stipend they plan will not cover the cost of much insurance, and that they (the Congressmen) can purchase insurance with an income of $175,000 behind them to supplant the cost of the policies.

    I think that the Ryan plan will work for all of us if Cravaack and the rest can guarantee that all of us make $175,000 per year. Without that we are screwed.

    Finally, if this plan will save us so much, and is the answer to all of our debt problems, why wait? Why just drop it on those under the age of 55? Why do they get the short stick?

    Lets do it now for the good of America. What do you think, oldsters? Good idea? Or do you think the Republicans are forcing generational hatred with their current plan? Just asking.

    • Citizen

      Or we could just take the age limit off Medicare and let everyone buy in. Funny, how no one talks about that option….

  • mike

    Cravaak is speaking with common sense. Don’t you take some pride in what your hard work has earned you? Also higher education is like investing in your future business isn’t it? If I want to better my little business I go to the bank or if I’m lucky write a check for what I need, to do the work better. I’m not standing there looking for you to hand over your hard earned money so that I can improve my world.

    • Al

      “hand over your hard earned money”… like wilf and the pohlads?


    Chimp Craak.

  • Citizen of Minnesota

    For those of you concerned about Medicare, go to and read David Cay Johnston’s article about Paul Ryan’s alternative to Medicare which will actually COST MORE taxpayer money than Medicare does. By the way, who names a kid “Chip?” This guy is a one-term wonder. The taxpayers are now “WONDERING” why they voted for him.

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