Castor blasts GOP transportation cuts

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Congresswoman Castor has been a strong supporter of the federal health care reform bill that was signed into law a year ago, but whose ultimate fate may ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. But Castor is proud of the fact that the President's oft-criticized plan includes provisions to try to "bend the cost curve," as the saying goes, in terms of trying to reduce spending on health care, which all parties agree is the number one issue that endangers the debt and deficit limits of the U.S. Government.


But she then paused while speaking to CL, saying that she was sounding too wonky.


"The Republicans are so good at saying 'the Democrats cut Medicare'!," she said laughing, referring to complaints made at town hall meetings in the summer of 2009 as the health care bill debate heated up.


"It's so ironic and hypocritical," she says, regarding the fact that Ryan's plan would essentially end Medicare as it's been conceived through its nearly 50 year history.

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If you weren't already aware, the Paul Ryan budget plan for fiscal year 2012 voted on last week by House Republicans that would turn Medicare into a voucher plan in 2022 and Medicaid into a block grant program to be administered by the states isn't very popular.

A Washington Post/ABC News poll released Wednesday shows that 78 percent oppose cutting spending on Medicare as a way to chip away at the debt. On Medicaid — the government insurance program for the poor — 69 percent disapprove of cuts.

Tampa area Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Castor has spoken out plenty against the Ryan plan regarding the dismantling of those health care entitlement programs. But on Thursday, she drew attention away from that aspect of his budget plan which has attracted significant attention, to highlight the fact that House Republicans if they get their way would cut out $624 billion dollars in funding for transportation and other infrastructure projects in Florida.

Castor held a news conference on Thursday morning at the construction site of the I-4 Crosstown Connector in Ybor City, boasting that work has been made possible by $105 million in federal stimulus funds. Castor said "We simply can't afford to be slashing jobs while the unemployment rate around here remains so high."

Castor said that while all the media's focus in the Ryan plan is on the entitlement programs, which are (along with Social Security) the most costly services the federal government pays for, she said that the transportation cuts that House Republicans voted on would be deleterious to small businesses, construction firms and engineering companies. And coupled with plans in Tallahassee to cut spending there, and the fact that local governments are already stretched, "We've got to have the federal government continue to make those important infrastructure investments," she maintained, calling on what President Obama wants to do with the budget and what Ryan, Eric Cantor, John Boehner and others are advocating "are just two very distinct visions for deficit reduction and future budgets.

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