WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Senate rejected a House-passed budget plan that would privatize Medicare, a vote aimed at putting Republicans on record on an issue Democrats say could boost them in the 2012 elections.
The Democratic-controlled Senate voted, 57-40, not to advance the plan drafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican. On Tuesday, Democrats seized a Republican-held House seat in western New York in a special election that the Democratic candidate turned into a referendum on Ryan's deficit-cutting Medicare proposal.
"Last night's results provide clear evidence that when voters learn about the Republican plan, ending Medicare as we know it, they say, "No,'" said Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. "This is a red district, and Republicans were expected to win, but everything changed once that conversation turned to Medicare."
Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, chairman of the Senate Republican campaign committee, said Medicare still may be trumped by the economy as an election issue next year. At any rate, he said, Republicans can get traction on the Medicare issue by pointing out the lack of Democratic ideas.
Five Republicans sided with Democrats to defeat the Ryan plan. They included Scott Brown of Massachusetts, a first-term lawmaker who faces voters in a heavily Democratic state next year; Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine; Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Rand Paul of Kentucky. Democrat James Webb of Virginia voted for the House plan.More
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