ICYMI: Rep. Chris Gibson took some shots at President Obama on CapTon last night, slamming him for failing to put much substance behind his recent speech addressing the country’s ever-mounting debt.

“I was willing to read,” the freshman Republican congressman told me. “If he was taking a mulligan…You know, if he hooked the first one in the woods, you know, that whole budget, and he took another ball out of his bag and said: I’ll hit another budget.”

“He hasn’t resubmitted a budget. He gave a speech, but there’s nothing behind it. There’s no paper behind it…It’s not enough just to make statements. I was willing to read the details of it.”

Gibson also again avoided taking a definitive stand on whether to raise the country’s debt ceiling, saying: “We can avoid this is the president comes to the table with serious spending cuts and structural changes.” He sounded open to voting along with the Democrats on this one, but that remains to be seen.

As Jimmy V. at CapCon has noted, the congressman is taking a far more pragmatic approach on fiscal matters than his more right-leaning colleagues in the House majority, which makes a lot of sense when you consider his constituency in NY-20.

While there are far more enrolled Republicans than Democrats – 183,222 to 123,991 – look at all those small-id independents in the middle – 109,777 – hello, siwng voters!

Also during this interview, Gibson defended his “yes” vote on Rep. Paul Ryan’s 2012 budget proposal that calls for dramatic changes to Medicare, insisting what the Republicans really want to do is “strengthen and preserve” the program, not “end” it, as the Democrats allege.

The DCCC sent out a detailed rebuttal of Gibson’s Medicare claims on last night’s show. It’s quite long, but since he had 10 minutes to express his point of view, I’m included the Democrats’ response in full after the jump.

From the DCCC:

In an interview with Capital Tonight’s Liz Benjamin, Representative Chris Gibson (NY-20) continued to mislead voters about his vote to end Medicare and force seniors to pay more for their health care.

Despite repeatedly claiming to oppose using vouchers for Medicare, Representative Gibson voted to do just that when he helped pass the Republican budget.

Now, caught breaking a campaign pledge, Representative Gibson is resorting to lies and distortions in an attempt to trick his constituents.

FALSE Gibson Claim: “Listen, I’m opposed to vouchers, and I remain opposed to vouchers because we don’t want to privatize this program. We don’t want a situation where our government just sends checks to senior citizens and says ‘you’re on your own, from there’ that’s what a voucher program would do and that’s unacceptable.”

FACT: Ryan Plan Will End Medicare And Turn It Into A Voucher Program. According to the Wall Street Journal, “The plan would essentially end Medicare, which now pays most of the health-care bills for 48 million elderly and disabled Americas, as a program that directly pays those bills.” The New York Times reported that, “The plan would turn Medicare into a voucher program for future generation[.]”[Wall Street Journal, 4/04/11; The New York Times, 4/11/11]

FALSE Gibson Claim: “If you’re a current senior, no change. If you’re 55 years and older, no change.”

FACT: The Republican-passed budget will force nearly four million seniors to pay an additional $2.2 BILLION for prescription drugs next year alone. Under the Republican budget, 273,223 New York seniors will pay $153 million more for prescription drugs next year alone. [DPCC, 4/21/11]

FALSE Gibson Claim: “If you’re 54 years and younger, what we’re talking about doing is giving future seniors the same options that members of Congress have.”

FACT: Under The Republican Plan Seniors Will Pay 68% Of Their Health Care Costs While Members Of Congress Only Pay 28%. In an April 2011 open letter to the House, Congressman Paul Tonko wrote, “If this plan extended the same kind of health care options that Members of Congress have access to, seniors would be responsible for only 28 percent of their health care premiums.

Yet, CBO projects that seniors will have to pay for 68 percent of their premiums within ten years of enactment of the Ryan Voucher Plan. Today, by comparison, the average senior on Medicare pays about 25 percent of their total health care costs. The Republican budget plan’s burden of 68 percent of health care costs on seniors is a far cry from the 28 percent of costs that Members of Congress pay.” [Office of Congressman Paul Tonko, 4/7/11]

FACT: Seniors Will Pay More Under Ryan Plan, Or Face Limits To Coverage

- Wall Street Journal: “The House Republican plan for overhauling Medicare would fundamentally change how the federal government pays for health care, starting a decade from now, likely resulting in higher out-of-pocket costs and greater limits to coverage for many Americans.” [WSJ, 4/6/11]

- The New York Times: “Mr. Ryan would largely privatize Medicare starting in 2022…The real result is that the most vulnerable — the elderly, the poor, the disabled — will have to pay more for care or forgo treatment.” [The New York Times, 4/5/11]

- LA Times: “The Republican congressman’s proposal to privatize Medicare would mean a dramatic hike in U.S. healthcare costs for the elderly an independent analysis finds. Seniors would pay almost double — more than $12,510 a year.” [Los Angeles Times, 4/7/11]