Paul Ryan Pick Changes Subject in Florida

Jewish Voters, Once Worried About Israel, Fret Over Medicare

Changing the Subject: Paul Ryan’s pick as the Republican vice presidential candidate means Jews in Florida are talking about, well, Paul Ryan, and his plans for Medicare and other entitlement programs. That could shake up the presidential race in the crucial battleground state.
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Changing the Subject: Paul Ryan’s pick as the Republican vice presidential candidate means Jews in Florida are talking about, well, Paul Ryan, and his plans for Medicare and other entitlement programs. That could shake up the presidential race in the crucial battleground state.

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published August 15, 2012, issue of August 24, 2012.
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The debate over how to reform Medicare is a complex one, and the details are obscure to even the most engaged voters. Democrats note that Ryan’s plan would eventually leave elderly people paying for a greater portion of their own health care. Republicans counter that Obama’s health care reform plan also slows growth in Medicare spending and that Ryan’s plan would not change Medicare benefits for anyone currently 55 or older.

One local Republican Jewish legislator, Florida State Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff, said Republicans could win votes by explaining the Medicare issue to Jewish voters.

“If the Republicans do a (good) job telling people what’s in Obamacare as it relates to Medicare and what’s in Ryan’s plan, people will be able to make an intellectual decision between two complex issues,” Bogdanoff said.

One GOP Jewish voter in South Florida, Adele Lurie, 69, told the Forward that she supports Ryan’s plan. She called it the only viable alternative for her children and grandchildren.

“If Social Security goes broke and Medicare goes broke … I don’t see how that’s a bright future for them,” she said.

Another South Florida Republican, Jack Davidson, 80, reached via telephone at his summer home in Ohio, where he votes, said he likes Ryan. But he feels he needs more information on Ryan’s Medicare proposals before Election Day.

“I have to hear more about the plan before I can make a decision,” Davidson said. “All I know is that it sounded terrific and the guy is, as I say, he’s brilliant. I just have to hear more about it.”

Shelley Siegel, 52, a volunteer with the Obama campaign who lives in Boynton Beach, Fla., said there’s no doubt the Ryan pick will hurt Romney’s chances of making inroads with Florida Jewish voters.

“Before it was discussions about Israel,” said Siegel. “But now the focus really becomes Medicare and Social Security – what you have and what you want your children to have.”

In an interview with the Forward, Koch scoffed at the notion that people over 55 shouldn’t care about Ryan’s proposed changes to Medicare because they won’t affect them.

“What Romney is saying is that all the grandmas don’t care what happens to their grandchildren and they’re willing to throw their grandchildren under the bus,” Koch quipped. “Not the grandmas I know.”

Contact Josh Nathan-Kazis at nathankazis@forward.com or on Twitter @joshnathankazis


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