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Senate Battle Heats Up: Hinckley Blasts Whitehouse

Saturday, May 28, 2011


GOP Senate hopeful Barry Hinckley took off the gloves Friday, blasting Senator Sheldon Whitehouse for “proudly tweeting” that he voted against Republican Congressman Paul Ryan’s proposed budget, but failing to offer an alternative to proposed Medicare cuts the Senator claims will hurt 17,000 Rhode Islanders.

“Real leaders take real action in times of crisis,” Hinckley told GoLocalProv Friday afternoon. “Where are Senator Whitehouse’s ideas? Partisan politics will not get us to a solution.”

Hinckley said Whitehouse and other Democrats are using “scare tactics” when it comes to Congressman Ryan’s budget. He says they choose to focus on Medicare because it strikes fear in elderly voters. Hinckley said the country can’t afford to have politicians who only want to “shoot the messenger” anymore.

Senator Whitehouse's office had no comment in regard to Hinckley’s statement.

Medicare and Social Security Are "Great"

Hinckley, who identifies himself as a “liberty Republican,” is currently the only member of the GOP to throw his hat into the ring against the state’s junior Senator. He said he fully supports both Medicare and Social Security, but that without changes to both programs, bankruptcy could be on the horizon.

“Medicare and Social Security are great programs,” Hinckley said. “But they’re going insolvent. We need real ideas instead of this demagoguery.”

Hinckley cited a report issued by the Congressional Budget Office, which suggests Medicare could climb to 80 percent of mandatory spending by 2020 if changes aren’t made.

Ryan’s Budget Changes Medicare

Ryan’s plan offers those changes; so much so that Democrats have become fond of suggesting the Republicans want to “end Medicare as we know it.”

They’re not completely wrong. Ryan’s budget calls for private insurers to cover the elderly, as opposed to being a guaranteed benefit. The plan would cost more – in some cases, much more – for Medicare beneficiaries.

When reached for comment, State Democratic Party chairman Ed Pacheco defended both Whitehouse and senior Senator Jack Reed.

“We're incredibly lucky to have Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed in the Senate standing up for Rhode Island seniors and fighting the Republican plan to end Medicare,” Pacheco said.

Hinckley Would Have Voted For Ryan’s Plan

Despite his support for Medicare and Social Security, Hinckley says Ryan’s proposed budget is a good starting point to getting the country back on firm financial footing. He said he doesn’t agree with everything in the budget, but he confirmed that he would have voted for it.

Hinckley (at left) maintains that Medicare needs to be “saved from itself.”

“[Senator] Whitehouse’s refusal to act (or even acknowledge the problem) is extremely irresponsible,” Hinckley said. “Not only is Whitehouse spreading falsehoods about proposals to reform Medicare (to save it from itself), he has refused to offer any plan of his own to address the problem. This inaction is akin to ordering that music play louder as the Titanic slowly slips below the surface.”

State GOP Backs Hinckley

The State GOP hasn’t formally taken a position on Hinckley’s candidacy, but Executive Director Patrick Sweeney said he supports the candidate’s decision to call out Senator Whitehouse.

"Barry is just calling attention to the fact that Whitehouse is another tax-and-spend liberal whose party has not passed a budget in 758 days,” Sweeney said. “All the Democrats care about is raising the debt ceiling so they can borrow more.”

Sweeney predicted that seniors will not buy into the anti-Medicare rhetoric during the 2012 election cycle.

“Whitehouse's 'Mediscare' tactics are not going to work on the seniors of Rhode Island this time around,” he said. “Whitehouse, however, should explain why our president cut half a billion dollars from Medicare to pay for ObamaCare. Unlike Whitehouse, Barry is a leader and his message of fiscal conservatism is resonating with the voters of Rhode Island.”

Where Is His Plan?

Hinckley maintains that Whitehouse has no plan when it comes to reforming Medicare, and that failing to figure out alternatives will hurt seniors down the line.

“Ultimately, it’s impossible to believe that Sheldon Whitehouse wants to protect Rhode Island seniors when he rejects serious proposals to restore solvency to Medicare, and offers no solutions,” Hinckley said. “Our entitlement programs are in life-threatening jeopardy. Where is Whitehouse’s plan to address this?”

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