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Baldwin Talks Future of Medicare At Oak Creek Event

The likely Democratic nominee in this fall's U.S. Senate race came to Paul Ryan's home district Thursday to discuss what she sees as the problems in his budget proposal.

Two unapologetic Democrats speaking in a largely conservative town, talking about Paul Ryan's budget proposal in the heart of the congressman's district.

How's that for contrast?

Such was the scene Thursday morning when U.S. Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin spoke in Oak Creek at UAW Local 438, 7435 S. Howell Ave., to discuss Ryan's budget and its impact on Medicare.

Baldwin, speaking to a full room and friendly audience, said she was disturbed by much of Ryan's budget proposal, which passed the U.S. House on a mostly party-line vote.

But what it does to Medicare is the "most menacing," she said. She criticized the proposal for "ending Medicare as we know it," said it would significantly increase out-of-pocket and total health care expenses, and also increase costs of preventative care.

"I have not seen anything this unfair in a long, long time," she said. "And it's happening under our watch. I am here to tell you that as a candidate for the United States Senate, I'm taking that fight on."

Baldwin said she got first-hand experience of how important Medicare and Social Security as she was raised by her grandparents.

She related a personal story of a serious illness she suffered when she was 9 years old. It forced her grandparents to pay large out-of-pocket expenses and saddled her with a preexisting medical condition that made it tough to get insurance.

"I got to see what an incredibly important role those two programs play in their security and the security of so many other," Baldwin said.

"I think she's right on," said Greendale resident Marlene Ott, a former teacher in the South Milwaukee school system. "If everybody knew her message, she'd win in a landslide. It's just getting the message out against all that corporate money."

Baldwin appeared with Ryan's opponent in this fall's U.S. congressional race, Rob Zerban. Democratic State Sen. Chris Larson was scheduled to attend as well but could not due to illness.

Speaking afterward with a few members of the media, including Oak Creek Patch, Baldwin said it was important to speak with all residents about her view of Ryan's proposal, even in his home district. Later, she was scheduled to host a similar event in Ryan's hometown of Janesville.

"Everybody in the state is impacted by the proposal to eliminate the guarantee of Medicare as we know it for future generations," she said. "I think it would be absolutely devastating to retirement security for middle-class Wisconsinites if the guarantee on Medicare were eliminated, and the people here in Oak Creek are eager to hear more and figure out what they can do."

Ryan, meanwhile, said in a statement following the House vote that the budget puts the nation's finances on a "path to balance and pay off the debt."

"The Path to Prosperity budget tackles our generation’s greatest domestic challenge: reforming and modernizing government to prevent an explosion of debt from crippling our nation and robbing our children of their future," he said.

Baldwin also gave her views on other topics raised by audience members. Among them:

Citizens United: Pinpointed two areas that opponents of the decision can focus on: disclosure of who's paying for something and what their agenda is, and how corporations make decisions -- whether it should be the CEO, board of directors or shareholders.

"It is having a devastating effect on our democracy. It makes voters feel like their voices aren't heard."

Supreme Court justices being too partisan: Said a bipartisan commission that recommends judges for the courts should be restored in Wisconsin and throughout the country.

"If people don't feel the judiciary is impartial, where do people go?"

Solvency of Social Security. Agrees with Sen. Bernie Sanders' assessment that Social Security will be solvent for many years, and that achieving longer-term solvency can be done through modest changes, as opposed to a large overhaul.

The audience was firmly in Baldwin's corner, interrupting her and Zerban with appaluse several times.

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