PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. - Just days before she officially becomes the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz held a town hall meeting in South Florida.
Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, is a powerful voice in Washington for President Barack Obama and his plan to reduce the deficit and the national debt. She was among liberal Democrats like her at the packed town hall meeting. Some of her strongest supporters, older Democrats, many of whom are Jewish, are on Medicare, a plan she warned is under attack by the GOP.
"This plan is nothing short of a termination of Medicare. If it ever became law, Medicare, under their plan, would be turned into a privatized voucher program. Seniors would be given a fixed voucher amount to go out and try to buy insurance coverage and cover your own expenses," Wasserman Schultz said.
"If that voucher isn't worth enough to buy the insurance that's available in the open marketplace, well, tough luck," Obama said.
The president has a plan to bring down Medicare costs and reduce the deficit by $4 trillion. But where the cuts will come and how fast is the big question.
"It's really not a revenue problem," said U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Plantation. "We can set the economic policies that can increase our revenues, but it is a spending problem coming out of Washington, D.C."
West is among the most influential freshmen in Congress and one of the most conservative. Raise the debt ceiling? No way, West said.
"This would be the 74th time that we've raised the debt ceiling, so it's really becoming a debt suggestion and not a debt ceiling," West said. "The most important thing is that now is the time to implement fiscal responsibility measures."
"It is desperately irresponsible not to vote to raise the debt ceiling and to play chicken with the debt ceiling," Wasserman Schultz said.
The two Congress members could not be more diametrically opposed on the debt ceiling and almost every other issue. They have a polite but cool relationship.
Copyright 2011 by Post-Newsweek Stations. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed