CHICAGO
05/16/2011 05:54 pm ET | Updated Jul 16, 2011

Paul Ryan In Chicago: Protesters Rally Against Plans To Cut Medicare

"Make sure Paul Ryan and the rest of Congress hear us loud and clear: Hands off our Medicare!" read an email blast from MoveOn.org to its Chicago subscribers.

Representative Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican who has been a leader in his party on budgetary issues, was in Chicago Monday lecturing at the Economic Club of Chicago. Ryan was speaking on a subject of which he's become a vocal spokesperson in recent weeks, and one that puts him on potentially thin political ice: reforming Medicare.

“The biggest and most radical threat to the Medicare is the status quo,” Ryan said in the talk, according to the New York Times. “It is unsustainable.”

But progressives rallying outside the speech had a different view. From the Associated Press:

Doug Adams of Chicago was among the protesters. Adams says people need to wake up because Republicans, Wall Street and big business think older Americans are an expensive commodity.

The protesters carried signs that read "Hands off my Medicare," "Hands off my Social Security," and "Paul Ryan plan: Let them eat cat food."

The chairman of the House Budget Committee said Sunday that he was considering a run for the seat of retiring U.S. Senator Herb Kohl, a Democrat. Meanwhile, the MoveOn.org protest marks a growing effort by progressives and Democrats to step up the efforts against a Republican-led reform of Medicare they fear will gut the program.