Asbury Park Press

Paul Ryan Gets Mixed Reviews From Shore Residents

Asbury Park Press — Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Written by
Dustin Racioppi

Down deep, Eleanor McCabe, an 80-year-old retired registered nurse, hoped Mitt Romney would pick Paul Ryan to run alongside him in November's presidential election.

"Medicare is going to go broke, all right? Someone has to get control of it," McCabe, of Toms River, said. That someone, she said, is Paul Ryan. "They have to revamp Medicare. They have to do something about all the entitlements. I think he'll find the right solutions."

Ryan, the 42-year-old fiscal hawk congressman from Wisconsin and the chairman of the House Budget Committee, seems to have widened the divide here between the elder fiscal conservatives already leaning toward Romney and those who fear drastic changes to Medicare and Social Security, as Ryan has proposed, will hurt their families in the future.

Monmouth and Ocean counties' aging population responded on Monday with a mix of praise and disappointment for Romney's pick for No. 2. Supporters balked at the emerging criticism that Ryan's plans are too far to the right while others adopted the argument that Ryan's plans and ideals further wedge out the middle class and leave seniors in the lurch.

Ryan has constructed a fiscal plan that, if adopted, would shrink government and overhaul Medicare, the federal health program for seniors, into a voucher-like system. The opposition says Ryan's plan, which also would raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67, ultimately will cost seniors more out-of-pocket.

George Hornchak, 67, said he sees no other choice but a hard one. Obama, he said, is full of double talk and has failed in his first term to take action on Medicare. It's time to see what the other side of the aisle can offer, he said.

"Remember, Romney is not a buy yet," Hornchak said of Ryan's Medicare plan, "so he could change it."

"Either it's going to be less coming down the road for seniors or we go bankrupt," he added.

Al Ward, a Neptune resident, said it is past time for Medicare reform and Ryan's proposals are "better than what we've got — much better than what we've got."

Stan Shapero, who turned 85 on Monday, said he admires Ryan for working well across the aisle, but "his idea of Medicare and Social Security and all that, to me, is all together wrong."

Jeff Brown, policy and communications coordinator for New Jersey Citizen Action, a watchdog group, said putting up Ryan for vice president defines where Romney stands: for cutting down the middle class and giving millionaires and billionaires tax breaks.

"I would imagine that your independent voters, the people who are going to decide this election — the people 55 to 64 — when they get into the policies, they are going to see very radical ideas, a lot of ideas that are going to hurt," Brown said.

Neptune resident Fran Pettit doesn't know much about the Ryan plan, but she's worried. At 88, she has twins who just turned the eligible age for Medicare and two others who are approaching eligibility. Then there are her grandchildren and great-grandchildren who, she presumes, will all feel the effects of sweeping changes.

"It's a tight situation for them," she said. "I'm glad I'm not in that next generation."

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