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Paul Ryan: Town Hall Protesters Say 'Keep Your Hands Off My Medicare' (VIDEO)


First Posted: 06/13/11 06:02 PM ET Updated: 08/13/11 06:12 AM ET

With reporting by Paige Lavender.

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) headed to the Newseum in downtown D.C. on Monday to participate in a town hall meeting with fellow Republicans. But while the participants inside focused their talk on the economy and jobs, a line of protestors outside the museum took aim at Ryan's proposed changes to Medicare and Medicaid.

Among them was Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.), who led a mix of progressives and union members in chants of "No to Ryan; yes to Medicare." Asked what question she would lob Ryan's way if she were inside the town hall, Edwards told HuffPost, "I'd ask Rep. Ryan why he wants to put forward a plan to end Medicare."

WATCH:

Ryan's budget plan wouldn’t end Medicare, but it would drastically reshape it. Unlike under the current, government-run program that guarantees coverage for citizens 55 and older, Medicare under Ryan's proposal would provide new enrollees with lump-sum payments to help buy their own plans. The proposal has become one of the most contentious elements of Ryan's overall budget, which passed through the House in April without Democratic support.

Republicans have argued that the proposal would rein in sky-high Medicare costs, while Democrats have said it will leave seniors with higher out-of-pocket expenses. A recent survey found that slightly more Americans oppose the proposal than favor it, with opposition higher among seniors.

A number of graying protesters came out to the Newseum to denounce Ryan's plan. "This is personal," said Stephen Spitz, a Falls Church, Va., resident who was holding a sign that read "Hands off Social Security and Medicare."

"I'm going to be on Medicare in eight months, and I don't want it messed with," he added.

Ryan was at the Newseum to answer questions about the economy alongside Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R), and Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.). The town hall was hosted by CBS News' Face the Nation anchor Bob Schieffer and Early Show co-anchor Erica Hill. It will air Tuesday morning at 8 a.m. on The Early Show.

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