By Leann Pettit
Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz (D-13th District), Montgomery County Commissioner Leslie Richards and Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), held a joint press conference Tuesday afternoon on the steps of the Montgomery County Courthouse.
Schwartz began by saying with the selection of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney's running mate, "We did want to talk about the really strong contrast between the visions for our country and the way we're going to get there."
She added, "There is such a stark contrast on priorities and choices."
She highlighted seniors, specifically medicare, as well as education as some of those differences.
Schwartz told those who gathered that Romney and Ryan are campaigning on the idea that tax cuts for the wealthy will create a stronger economy for the whole.
"We know this is not true," she said.
"President Obama believes that we need an economy built to last, that's built from the middle class out, not top down," said Richards.
Schwartz and Ryan are both members of the budget committee, and have worked together in that committee for the past eight years. Schwartz said of Ryan, "I have seen time and time again [Ryan] vote against a more balanced approach to balancing the budget and to protecting the investments in our future and our promises to our seniors."
Schwartz discussed the Ryan plan to make Medicare a voucher system, and effectively "end Medicare as we know it."
Richards said of the Romney/Ryan plan, "Seniors are going to be hurt badly, and your children and grandchildren are not going to be doing much better."
She added that while she has been in Congress, the fiscal life of Medicare has been extended by eight years by making it more efficient and strengthening benefits to Medicare beneficiaries while cutting fraud and wasteful spending. She said they are saving "dollars in the right way."
On the topic of education, Schwartz said, "I have watched Paul Ryan on the budget committee time and time again, to choose the wealthiest oil companies, the wealthiest 1 or 2 percent of Americans, over funding for childcare, preschool and basic education, and access to higher education. Taking dollars away from student loan programs, taking dollars away from early childhood [programs]."
Richards said Obama has signed into law the student loan reform, which makes it easier for students to pay for college; expanded Pell grants, which helps three million students with grants to pay for higher education; and gives families tax breaks to help afford paying college tuition.
"[Obama is] helping prepare people for good paying jobs," said Richards.
Richards continued, saying that the Ryan plan cuts 20 percent per year from education funding to help "fund historic tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires." The cuts will "cut $186 million from K-12 education and makes higher education less affordable."
"[Obama understands] that education is not a luxury," she said.
Lautenberg, a senator from New Jersey, said the two states are similar: common cultures, and a strong middle class.
He said, "You can't build a house from the chimney on down," but need to focus on the foundation and build up, "the same for our country."
He said that Romney and Ryan believe the opposite, "like a reverse Robin Hood," he added, take from the middle class and the seniors and give to the wealthy, he explained.
"They want to impoverish the middle class," said Lautenberg.
"These guys bring a different kind of bologna, you can't eat it, but you can smell it," said Lautenberg.
"[The Romney plan] is asking the middle class to bear so much of the burden," Schwartz said.
""They do not stand for us, they do not stand for middle class families," said Richards.