By Jesse Roman
---- — DANVERS — Congressman John Tierney left no doubt yesterday that he believes outlining the sharp contrast between Democratic and Republican ideology is his path to reelection in November.
“They are starkly contrasting views, and I will lay out both choices and what it means for Massachusetts and the district depending on what we choose,” Tierney told members of the North Shore Chamber of Commerce during a speech yesterday at the Danversport Yacht Club.
The Republican budget — named the Ryan plan after its author, congressman and vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan of Wisconsin — gives more tax breaks to the wealthy, while drastically cutting essential services for lower- and middle-class Americans, Tierney said.
“There are no new revenues, no tax loopholes cut,” Tierney said. “Cutting discretionary spending is the sole area they look at to level the deficit.”
That includes cutting spending on education, health care, veterans’ care, green technology, research, infrastructure, Medicare and Medicaid, community block grants and more, Tierney said.
Medicaid cuts could force states to throw seniors out of nursing homes or drastically reduce local aid; Medicare would turn into a voucher system, forcing seniors to pay thousands out-of-pocket; food programs for low-income people would be slashed, and Pell grants and other student aid would be cut, Tierney warned.
The Republicans also want to repeal President Obama’s health care act, which would mean a return to lifetime limits on coverage, premium hikes, exclusions for pre-existing conditions and scores of uninsured Americans, Tierney said.
“It’s a bad plan,” he said, “and it makes our future a lot more difficult to envision.”
The Democrats, Tierney said, want to fix the deficit “in a balanced way” that includes “severe cuts ... but also looking at revenues. The people at the top end maybe don’t need those (Bush-era) tax cuts.”
He advocated letting the tax cuts expire for those earning more than $250,000 — 2 percent of Americans — and keeping the tax cuts for everyone else. Tierney also wants to close some loopholes, subsidies and tax exemptions that he said would save nearly $500 billion in the next five years.
By ending the Bush-era tax cuts, the federal government would save $1 trillion over the next decade, he said.
In the Democratic plan, “spending will be kept down considerably. It will be painful, but far less painful than (the Republican) plan I just described,” Tierney said.
Though the congressman never mentioned his Republican opponent, Richard Tisei, Tierney has relentlessly tried to paint Tisei as a loyal follower of Ryan’s ideology and to convince voters that a vote for Tisei is a vote for the Republican establishment. Tisei, meanwhile, has made a concerted effort to bill himself as a moderate, independent thinker in the vein of Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown.
Tierney noted that Tisei was named a Republican Young Gun, a program Ryan co-founded, and Ryan’s political action committee has plans to spend $900,000 in the coming months supporting Tisei’s campaign and presumably bashing Tierney.
“Take a good look now; you may not recognize me in a few months,” Tierney joked about the ads to come.
Tierney, an eight-term Democrat, and Tisei, a former state senator from Wakefield, are locked in a heated and bitter campaign for the Massachusetts 6th Congressional District.
Tisei is scheduled to address the chamber next month.
Staff writer Jesse Roman can be reached at email@example.com.