Angry voters crowd GOP town meetings
KENOSHA, Wis. - Congressman Paul Ryan has a plan that would change Medicare as we know it, and require future generations of seniors to pay a greater share of their health care costs. CBS News congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes reports Rep. Ryan is holding a series of town meetings on the plan -- and not everyone's buying what he's selling.
The town meetings in this mostly rural district are normally intimate affairs. But this week, constituents from Twin Lakes to Kenosha are being turned away as capacity crowds inside come to praise or condemn the plan Ryan likes to call the "path to prosperity."
"Your plan screws the next two generations," one constituent is heard telling Ryan.
Ryan, who chairs the House Budget Committee, is trying to convince mostly older audiences that Medicare for future generations should be replaced with subsidies that would partly pay for private insurance.
"We're going over $10 trillion deeper in the hole every year if we don't do something to fix this situation," Ryan said.
(Scroll down to see more of Cordes' interview with Rep. Ryan.)
He's trying to make an even harder sell: That in an era of growing income disparity, taxes for corporations and wealthy Americans should be lowered.
"There's nothing wrong with taxing the top because it does not trickle down," one constituent said.
"We do tax the top," was Ryan's reply, which was met with boos.GOP lawmaker Dan Webster's town hall turns ugly
It's a clash playing out in town meetings around the country this week.
At a recent town meeting, Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla., said, "Not one senior citizen is harmed by this budget."
"What?" someone in the crowd responded. "You're a liar, you're a damn liar."
"Do you think you would be getting more support out there if you didn't include this big tax cut for the wealthy as part of your plan?" Cordes asked Ryan in an interview Tuesday.
"We're not doing that, we're just not agreeing with the president's tax increases," he answered.
"Well 35 percent to 25 percent is a big cut," Cordes said.
"In exchange for losing their tax shelters," Ryan replied.
But the protests here and there don't bother Ryan. For every detractor there's more than one thanking him for trying to tackle the deficit.
The debate will be front and center when Congress gets back to Washington next week, because Republicans have made it clear they won't vote to raise the nation's debt limit unless deficit reduction is part of the deal.
Watch more of Nancy Cordes' interview with Ryan below.
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