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Dan Webster: Suspiciously Silent on Paul Ryan and His Plan

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Webster voted for Ryan's budget which ends Medicare as we know it — now he's silent on Ryan's selection and no one's seen him in the district 

TALLAHASSEE, FL — Unlike virtually every other Republican member of Florida's congressional delegation, Congressman Dan Webster has been suspiciously silent on Paul Ryan's selection as the GOP's Vice Presidential nominee. He's issued no press release, no statement — not even a Tweet or Facebook post about the GOP's nominee. Of course, it's no mystery where Webster stands on Ryan's policies — he voted twice in favor of Ryan's budget which ends Medicare as we know it, increasing the cost of healthcare for seniors by thousands of dollars while giving tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires.  

Webster's silence on Ryan also highlights his disturbing lack of engagement with his constituents and a pattern of absence from the district. Following Webster's disastrous town hall in April of 2011 where he faced "a barrage of questions from outraged [constituents] about the Republican budget," Webster has pointedly avoided interacting with constituents in the Orlando area. This August, he has scheduled no Town Halls in the district after voting to allow the House to go on a five week vacation.  

"Congressman Webster has been suspiciously silent about Congressman Paul Ryan's selection and disturbingly disengaged from his constituents," said David Bergstein, spokesman for the Florida Democratic Party. "Of course, it's no mystery where Webster stands on Ryan's policies: Webster voted to end Medicare as we know it while giving tax breaks to billionaires and millionaires -- prioritizing an extreme agenda that does nothing to help businesses create jobs or grow our economy. Is Webster avoiding Orlando's middle class families, so he doesn’t have to explain his support for the Ryan-Webster plan to end Medicare as we know it?" 

BACKGROUND

Webster Has Drawn Heat for not engaging with his constituents. “Democrats are crying foul over a private town hall meeting that U.S. Rep. Dan Webster held Monday with Tea Party activists in Orlando, criticizing the rookie Republican for not taking time to meet with the general public instead […] Town hall meetings have been a touchy subject for Webster since one session in April erupted into bedlam as participants turned the affair into a shouting match over federal spending and priorities. And this summer, Webster took some heat for distributing material to other members of Congress that included a watch list of six Central Floridians who spoke at his town halls” [Orlando Sentinel, 11/30/11]

Webster has acknowledged his "rare" public appearances. "An invitation to Monday’s event appears to acknowledge such history: ‘This is a rare appearance for the Congressman to appear on the East Side of Orlando.’" [Orlando Sentinel, 11/30/11]

Webster has held no public Town Halls For Months. The last town hall mentioned on his Congressional website is in April 2012. [Webster Congressional Website, accessed 8/16/12]

Last Year, Webster Voted to End Medicare As We Know It. On April 15, 2011, Webster voted in support of a budget, which according to the Wall Street Journal, “would essentially end Medicare.” If enacted, this budget would begin affecting millions of seniors almost immediately by increasing the costs on prescription drugs and long-term care. For future beneficiaries, the plan will significantly increase out-of pocket costs for health care, which according to the Congressional Budget Office would more than double under the Republican Plan. [H Con. Res. 34, Vote #277, 4/15/11; Wall Street Journal, 4/4/11; National Journal,6/2/11; CBO, 4/5/11; see also: Los Angeles Times, 4/7/11; Congressional Joint Economic Committee, 5/20/11]

Webster Voted for House Republican Budget That Would Turn Medicare Into Voucher Program. On March 29, 2012, Congressman Webster voted in favor of a budget that would end Medicare’s guaranteed benefit, protects $40 billion in tax breaks for big oil, and provides people earning more than $1 million a year with an average tax cut of $265,000. The Tampa Bay Times wrote, “Floridians should be concerned about all these misplaced priorities, but Medicare and Medicaid are particularly at risk. House Republicans would end the help seniors receive toward closing the prescription drug doughnut hole. Their plan would eventually raise Medicare’s eligibility age from 65 to 67. It would transform the safety net into a premium-support voucher program that provides government subsidies to private insurers, though beneficiaries could keep the current fee-for-service option.” [H Con Res 112, Vote #151, 3/29/12; Tampa Bay Times, 3/31/12; New York Times Editorial, 3/20/12; Center for American Progress, 3/20/12; Tax policy Center, 3/23/12]

The Tampa Bay Times wrote that under the Webster-Ryan budget the "Rich get richer" and "Medicare and Medicaid are particularly at risk." "House Republicans envision a country where Americans would be increasingly on their own to afford food and medical care even when they are elderly, disabled or poor. It also would be a nation with a tax code that tilts further toward benefiting corporations and the wealthy.…Floridians should be concerned about all these misplaced priorities, but Medicare and Medicaid are particularly at risk…Congressional Republicans want to exacerbate the nation’s yawning income inequality while making life harder for those at the bottom.” [Tampa Bay Times, 3/31/12]

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