Alarm over U.S. debt creates 'window' for tough choices
By Richard Wolf, USA TODAY
Monday, November 29, 2010
RACINE, Wis. — If Americans aren't prepared for the hard choices needed to control the national debt, most voters here must have missed the memo.
The local Republican congressman, Paul Ryan, campaigned for re-election by calling for reductions in the growth of Medicare and Social Security. He won with 68% of the vote.
Ryan's landslide in a southeastern Wisconsin district formerly held by Democrats may be a testament to the national mood when it comes to red ink, budget watchdogs and local business groups say. As President Obama and Congress turn their attention from energizing the economy to balancing the budget, even sacred items such as retirement programs will be fair game — something Ryan tells his constituents regularly.
"They know that he talks straight," says Michael Kobylka, president of the Racine Area Manufacturers and Commerce, the local business coalition. "It's those third-rail issues that nobody has wanted to talk about that are part of the problem."
"People are ready for an adult conversation, they're ready for the truth, they're ready for solutions no matter whether they agree on every detail or not," says Ryan, 40. His fiscal "Roadmap for America's Future" — which features dramatic changes that could boost Medicare costs and reduce Social Security benefits for Americans now under 55 — was endorsed by dozens of candidates in this year's elections. "This is no longer the third rail it was once thought to be."
The full article is available online at: http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2010-11-29-1Adeficit29_CV_N.htm