VIDEO: Hirono Calls Republican Budget an Anti-People Budget

May 5, 2011, 2:24 PM HST · Updated May 6, 5:58 AM
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By Wendy Osher

Congresswoman Mazie Hirono, photo by Wendy Osher.

Congresswoman Mazie Hirono was among those that voted against the Ryan Republican Budget bill, calling it an “anti-people budget.”  Her reaction to bill was part of a legislative update she provided to us during a recent visit to the Valley Isle.

“It totally changes how we do Medicare,” said Rep. Hirono of the document.  “For everybody who’s under 55 right now–there are close to a million in Hawai’i–Medicare would become privatized.  This is a huge, huge change,” she said.

“Also all of the people who are currently on Medicare now, will see some major limitations on the changes we made to health care two years ago in terms of prescription drug costs, closing the doughnut hole, and having access to preventive care,” said Rep. Hirono.

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The House Republican budget was proposed by Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan.  It seeks to slow increases in health care costs by restructuring Medicare.

Congresswoman Hirono estimated that under the proposed budget bill, those who are on Medicare now, as well as the baby-boomer population coming down the pipeline, would have to wait until age 67 to get Medicare.

“Imagine what it’s going to feel like when you’re 67 years old, you’re going to be given a voucher, you’ll have to go out there into the private market, and try to get an insurance company to insure you–you have all kinds of pre-existing conditions, the voucher is not going to be enough to pay for everything.  It is bad news,” said Rep. Hirono.

In addition to increased costs for brand-name prescription drugs, the Congresswoman claimed the budget would likely result in a loss of jobs.

“That budget, if it went through–Goldman Sachs and other conservative groups have said–we’re going to lose so many jobs that we’ll probably go back to the great recession of 2008.  That’s really bad for our country,” said Rep. Hirono. 

Upon passage of the bill in the House on April 15th, Rep. Ryan said, “the House turned the page on the politics of the past and offered a fresh, optimistic view of a prosperous future – a future of robust economic growth, a debt-free nation, and a government that lives within its means.” 

Rep. Hirono also criticized the Budget for its inclusion of what she called tax cuts for the wealthy and subsidies for oil and gas companies. “Those two things by itself, shows the kind of priorities that the Republicans have, and that’s why I’ve called it an anti-people budget,” said Rep. Hirono who argues that the tax cuts alone would add a trillion dollars to the deficit. 

In terms of taxes, Rep. Ryan says the Republic version of the budget, “Keeps taxes low so the economy can grow.”  In a press release issued by the House Committee on the Budget, Rep. Ryan claims the document eliminates roughly $800 billion in tax increases imposed by the President’s health care law and, “Calls for a simpler, less burdensome tax code.”

The Republican Budget bill passed the House and is currently under review in the U.S. Senate.  “I am hoping and praying that the Senators will not pass it.  They’ve said that they won’t, but you know these kinds of attitudes and priorities seep into other bills that do get passed,” said Rep. Hirono.

Looking to the future, we asked Rep. Hirono about her plans and speculation about her potential run for the the U.S. Senate to fill the vacancy being created by the retirement of U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka in 2012. 

“I am seriously considering it,” said Rep. Hirono. “I love what I am doing in the House, I’ve established a lot of strong relationships and friendships–at the same time, I would like to do more for Hawai’i and I think I can do that from the Senate, but I haven’t made an ultimate decision.  I am letting people know that I am seriously considering it and I’m getting a lot of support… so stay tuned,” she said.

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