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The Clear Contrast for Seniors: Lawson v. Southerland

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As Lawson meets with seniors in Panama City today, the contrast between the candidates couldn't be more clear  

TALLAHASSEE, FL — The contrast between which candidate will stand up for Medicare and Social Security couldn't be more clear in the second congressional district — and while Al Lawson will hold a roundtable with seniors in Panama City today to discuss how we can strengthen and protect these vital programs, Congressman Steve Southerland has a record of partisanship and extremism that's shown he's become part of the problem in Washington. 

Congressman Southerland has rubber-stamped a Tea Party agenda which is out of touch with the values of north Florida: voting twice to end Medicare as we know it, raising the cost of healthcare for seniors by thousands of dollars every year and supporting a potentially disastrous plan to gamble with seniors' Social Security in the Stock Market — all while obstructing a viable jobs plan and giving billions of our tax dollars in handouts to millionaires.  Even worse, Congressman Southerland is lying about his own record to cut Medicare by $716 billion.

"Congressman Southerland said he'd change Washington — but all he's done is gone Washington," said Florida Democratic Party spokesman David Bergstein. "And while Al Lawson is meeting with seniors at round tables across the district to discuss how we can strengthen and protect vital programs like Social Security and Medicare, Southerland has voted to end Medicare as we know it -- turning this program into a voucher system which would raise the cost of healthcare for seniors by thousands every year. When it comes to standing up for our seniors, the contrast in this race couldn't be more clear: Al Lawson will fight to ensure that seniors receive the guaranteed Medicare benefits that they have earned and deserve, while Southerland supports an extreme agenda which will hurt our seniors and is out of touch with Florida's values." 

New polling shows that the race between Congressman Southerland and Al Lawson is tied, with the embattled incumbent looking increasingly vulnerable.  

BACKGROUND

Congressman Steve Southerland Voted for Ryan Budgets That Ends Medicare As We Know It. Congressman Southerland voted for two budgets authored by Congressman Paul Ryan. The budgets would:

  • end Medicare’s guaranteed benefit;
  • the Congressional Budget Office estimated it will increase health care costs by an extra $6,359 by 2022 for future Medicare beneficiaries, while a household making between $50,000 and $100,000 would face a tax increase of at least $1,358;
  • protect $40 billion in tax breaks for big oil;
  • provide people earning more than $1 million a year with an average tax cut of $265,000;
  • create incentives for corporations to shift profits and jobs overseas. 

According to the Wall Street Journal, the budget would "essentially end medicare."  

[H Con. Res. 34, Vote #277, 4/15/11; H Con Res 112, Vote #151, 3/29/12; Center for American Progress, 3/20/12; Center for American Progress, 3/20/12; Center for Budget and Policy Priorities,3/27/12; Tax Policy Center, Table T12-0078 and T10-0132; Citizens for Tax Justice, 3/22/12; Joint Economic Committee, 5/20/11; Joint Economic Committee, 6/20/12]

The Tampa Bay Times wrote that under the Southerland-Ryan budget the "Rich get richer." "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]

Republicans Voted for Medicare “Cuts.” House Republicans “voted for the same Medicare cuts as president Obama’s health plan known as ObamaCare.  Under the 2011 Ryan plan bill approved by nearly every House Republican, ObamaCare would have been repealed almost entirely – except when it came to the Medicare reductions in future reimbursement rates to hospitals and drug and insurance companies. So Medicare’s bottom-line spending would have been about the same under ObamaCare or under what some are now calling RyanCare.” [Miami Herald, 8/13/12]

Southerland Supported Privatizing Social Security. In 2010, Southerland said, “I think we’re going to have to address some kind of privatization, in some way. Not perhaps all of Social Security...maybe those that are just starting out. Maybe those employees that are 30 and under. That there’s some type of privatization.” In 2011, Southerland voted against a measure that would protect Social Security benefits from privatization. As of 2011, there were 136,863 Social Security beneficiaries in the 2ndCongressional District. 92,479 were aged 65 or older.[Southerland Campaign Mayo Event, 5/08/10; HJR 48, Vote 178, 2/15/11; Social Security Administration, December 2011]

Congress Adjourned Without Addressing Nation’s Problems.  “Congress is on track to adjourn at one of the earliest dates before Election Day since 1960, giving lawmakers more time to campaign in the final stretch but also opening up the institution to further criticism that it’s not working hard enough to address the nation’s problems [...] Congress will punt action on the farm bill until after the election. Lawmakers face a dizzying agenda in the lame-duck session to address what is dubbed the “fiscal cliff”: the expiration of the Bush tax cuts and the triggering of $109 billion in across-the-board spending cuts that threaten to send the economy into a recession.” [USA Today, 9/20/12] 

Partisan Congress Obstructed Critical Jobs Bill.  “Does anyone remember the American jobs act? A year ago, President Obama proposed boosting the economy with a combination of tax cuts and spending increases, aimed in particular at sustaining state and local government employment [...] But the bill went nowhere, of course, blocked by Republicans in Congress. And now, having prevented Mr. Obama from implementing any of his policies, those same Republicans are pointing to disappointing job numbers and declaring that the president’s policies have failed. Think of it as a two-part strategy. First, obstruct any and all efforts to strengthen the economy, Then exploit the economy’s weakness for political gain.” [New York Times Editorial, 9/09/12

Southerland Said $174,000 Salary “Not So Much.” “U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland told retirees Wednesday that serving in Congress is a great honor and privilege, but not cushy job with lavish insurance and pension benefits that many disgruntled taxpayers seem to think it is.  He said his $174,000 salary is not so much […] He added that ‘if you took the hours that I work and divided it into my pay,’ the $174,000 salary would not seem so high.” [Florida Capital News, 8/25/11]

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