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At Union Rally, DNC Chair and Labor Chief Launch Broadside Against Paul Ryan

Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Richard Trumka weigh in.

1:57 PM, Aug 11, 2012 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
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Philadelphia
Speaking at the Workers Stand for America union rally in Philadelphia today, Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz wasted no time attacking newly announced Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan. 

Richard Trumka speaks to an AFL-CIO gathering in 2009.

Richard Trumka speaks to an AFL-CIO gathering in 2009.

Wasserman Schultz, addressing an estimated crowd of 40,000 union members, said that Ryan would "end Medicare as we know it," and made an extended attack on his budget plan.

Speaking to reporters after the event, she doubled down on her comments. "I think Mitt Romney with his selection of Paul Ryan has doubled down on his interest in shredding the safety net for our seniors ... and making sure that when it comes to their health that seniors would never again be able to afford quality health care."

Wasserman Schultz also criticized the Ryan budget for being "focused on giving more tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires."

Pressed by the THE WEEKLY STANDARD about whether or not reforming Medicare—which has $38 trillion in long-term liabilities—is possible without changing the program, Wasserman Schultz responded, "Barack Obama, through our Affordable Care Act, has already added eight years of solvency to Medicare and proven that we don't need to shred Medicare's safety net."

But earlier this year, Richard Foster, the independent actuary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said the Affordable Care Act would not save Medicare—and that saving the program would require overhauling the program. "While the Affordable Care Act makes important changes to the Medicare program and substantially improves its financial outlook, there is a strong likelihood that certain of these changes will not be viable in the long range ... Without unprecedented changes in health care delivery systems and payment mechanisms, the prices paid by Medicare for health services are very likely to fall increasingly short of the costs of providing these services," Foster wrote in the Medicare Trustees Report. According to the report, Medicare will be insolvent by 2024.

Speaking with reporters at the rally today, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka called Paul Ryan "the poster child for doing away with Medicare."

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