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SENATE (copy)

State Sen. Leah Vukmir speaks in the Senate chambers at the state Capitol in Madison in November.

State Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Brookfield, signaled her support on Tuesday for potential cuts to federal entitlement spending.

The issue is one House Speaker Paul Ryan has said Congress will take up next year. But while Democrats accuse Republicans of growing the deficit with their new tax overhaul in order to cut Medicare and Social Security, Ryan has said those programs will not be the focus in 2018.

Vukmir, who is seeking the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, said at a WisPolitics luncheon she thinks entitlement reforms are "certainly on the table" next year. 

"I think that it's important that as policymakers — and we've done this here in Wisconsin and it should be done at the federal level — that we look for every opportunity to expand the economy, grow the economy, but we also have to be responsible stewards and look for programs that are working and programs that aren't working," Vukmir said when asked about entitlement cuts. 

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Democratic Party of Wisconsin spokesman Brad Bainum accused Vukmir of seeking to "help billionaires and corporate special interests get even richer by championing policies that hurt working families" by slashing programs relied upon by Wisconsinites.

In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Wednesday, Ryan said he hopes Congress will focus on changes to welfare and Medicaid next year. He told the newspaper the changes he plans to pursue do not include overhauling Social Security and Medicare benefits. 

"We’re focused on giving states more flexibility in Medicaid," Ryan said Wednesday on ABC. "Those are things we think we can do to bring more savings to the budget and more importantly to get people from welfare to work, and those are the kinds of things we’re going to be focused on in 2018."

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Jessie Opoien covers state government and politics for the Capital Times. She joined the Cap Times in 2013 and has also covered Madison life, race relations, culture and music. She has also covered education and politics for the Oshkosh Northwestern.