By Michael Bryan
I recently took a close look at the CD9 Congressional Debate between Vernon Parker and Kyrsten Sinema (and some obnoxious Libertarian perennial candidate), and one exchange really stood out for me: Kyrsten accused Parker of supporting the entitlement reforms in the Ryan budget plan (time mark 16:40). Then Parker denied supporting the Ryan budget plan (time mark 16:57). That's not what Kyrsten accused you of, Vernon.
Sinema specifically noted that Parker has expressed support for entitlement reforms in the Ryan budget, not the whole thing. Parker is on record saying he does not endorse the whole Ryan budget (though I think that is likely a political imposture adopted in deference to the competitive nature of the District he's running in, and not any specific disagreements – he was unable to name a single real disagreement with the Ryan budget when asked for one).
Notably, Parker did not answer Sinema's allegation by denying that he supports Ryan's entitlement reforms, he denies he supports the whole budget. Not the same thing, Vernon! Answer the charge: do you support the Ryan voucher plan for Medicare (so-called "premium support plan")? He won't deny that he supports that portion of the Ryan plan.
Parker was asked specifically about the Ryan budget in a Politics Unplugged interview on Sept. 2nd (video link). Parker said that the we have to look at entitlement benefits for future generations because the current system is "not working" and that he does support that aspect of the Ryan plan. In addition, when pressed about what about the Ryan plan he DOES NOT support (time mark 4:20), Parker claims that he wants to protect seniors' Social Security benefits (retiree and near-term beneficiaries are held harmless in Ryan's current plan, to prevent a retiree revolt, so there is no distinction here…). As to Medicare, well, Parker doesn't really say what he might disagree with in the Ryan plan, only that Obamacare cuts Medicare, which is just a repetition of the lie that won't die. So, It is hard to see any daylight between Ryan and Parker on entitlement reform, because Parker just won't talk about it. Conclusion: there isn't any.
Now consider Parker's candidate questionnaire, in which he talks about entitlement reform:
“For years, the government has been deceiving the American people. The truth is we can’t afford the government we now enjoy. Medicare and Social Security are large drivers of that imbalance. I have three tenants for reform. First, seniors and those nearing retirement must be assured that their benefits will stay the same. We must honor our contract with them. Second, middle age workers must be willing to accept reforms to the current programs to extend the life of these programs. Third, those entering the workforce like my son’s generation need to understand that reforming these systems sooner rather than later increases the chances of meaningful reform in the future. The truth is Congress is too afraid to make the difficult choices, and every day we wait, the solution gets more expensive.”
That certainly is consistent with Ryan's voucher plan, and even with some of Ryan's more ambitious goals for privatizing Social Security. Needless to say, it is also consistent with the $700 billion in Medicare savings present in both Obamacare (which does not cut benefits, and plows the money back into expanded Medicare benefits) and the Ryan plan (which plows those same savings into the wallets of the wealthiest through top-rate tax cuts).
Vernon Parker has an allergy to taking any clear position on the central issues of this campaign. And there is good reason for that: if his views were honestly expressed, he would never be elected in CD9.
Stand up and make a Final Push for Victory today as a BlogForArizona contributor to the closest Congressional races in Arizona: Simena's among them. Let's elect Democrats to Congress who will put the kibosh on Ryan's dangerous and radical plans for entitlement 'reform'.