Parties Sparring Over Medicare As Sen. Coburn Says Entitlements Must Be Part Of Deficit Effort
News outlets are covering the increasing politicization of Medicare.
Bloomberg: Coburn Says Medicare, Medicaid Must Be Part Of Budget Talks
Medicare and Medicaid programs must be part of the U.S. effort to reduce the budget deficit, Senator Tom Coburn said ... on NBC's "Meet the Press" program broadcast today. ... "To lead on this issue and create a false predicate that says we can solve our problems without addressing our entitlements hurts the country." As part of the debate on government spending, which includes completing a 2012 budget, President Barack Obama has offered the outlines of a plan to reduce the debt by $4 trillion over 12 years through a combination of spending cuts and tax increases. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, has proposed cutting spending by $6 trillion over a decade in part by privatizing Medicare and capping Medicaid spending. Republicans reject Obama's push for tax increases on the wealthiest Americans to help reduce debt (Katz, 4/24).
Fox News: Santorum Calls Own Vote In Favor Of Medicare Drug Benefit A 'Mistake'
Possible presidential candidate Rick Santorum conceded Sunday that he made a "mistake" in voting for the Medicare prescription drug benefit back in 2003. ... Santorum, a former Republican Pennsylvania senator, told "Fox News Sunday" that there were two things wrong with the bill creating the program, which is now estimated to cost about $60 billion a year, contributing to the country's out-of-control deficit. Santorum said Congress should not have made the program universal and should have found a mechanism with which to pay for it (4/24).
Los Angeles Times: House Republicans Face Backlash At Home Over Budget Plan
Congress is on its first recess since Republican leaders unveiled a plan to end the federal deficit by dramatically changing Medicare, cutting other government programs and reducing taxes. With members of the House returning home to meet with constituents, politicians have been anxiously looking for signs of trouble. ... Republicans heard their core supporters urging them to take strong stands and hold fast on ... the debate over raising the federal debt limit. ... But in many places, Democrats turned out to express their opposition, much as Republicans had done in the healthcare debate. In a Pennsylvania coal town, a man outraged by the GOP budget plan was escorted out of a town hall by police. In Wisconsin, Rep. Paul D. Ryan, the architect of the Republican plan, was booed in his own district as he outlined the proposal. Here in Hillsborough, (N.H.,) a bedroom community in a state known for a fiscally conservative streak, (Rep. Charles) Bass painted a doomsday picture, saying the country would be "basically ruined" if it did not curb the growth of government. But a group of gray-haired constituents - most later identified themselves as Democrats - quickly pushed him back on his heels. He struggled to defend the GOP plan vigorously, once mischaracterizing a key element. By the time he left, he seemed less than wedded to the details (Hennessey, 4/23).
The Washington Post: Republicans Facing Tough Questions Over Medicare Overhaul In Budget Plan
Anxiety is rising among some Republicans over the party's embrace of a plan to overhaul Medicare, with GOP lawmakers already starting to face tough questions on the issue at town hall meetings back in their districts. House leaders have scheduled a Tuesday conference call in which members are expected in part to discuss strategies for defending the vote they took this month on a budget that would transform the popular entitlement program as part of a plan to cut trillions in federal spending. ... The assault has taken some Republicans by surprise, prompting concerns that the party is ceding ground in a policy debate that GOP strategists already viewed as perilous (Wallsten, 4/22).
The Washington Post: For Conflicted Ryan Constituent, Budget Debate About More Than His Own Future
Ryan, the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee, had returned to his district in southern Wisconsin to detail his 2012 budget proposal at a series of small community meetings, none of which turned out to be small. ... Seated in the sixth row of folding chairs, lost amid the commotion, a 64-year-old man in wire-rimmed glasses leaned forward and quietly raised his hand. Clarence Cammers had come to ask a question, one that had been weighing on his mind for the past two weeks. ... "I guess what I'm saying is, what are all these changes going to mean for my son?" (Saslow, 4/23).
The Wall Street Journal: Both Sides Launch Ads on Medicare
Attack ads on Medicare have begun popping up on radio in key congressional districts. And before the next election is in the books, people in both parties predict that many more voters will see exchange of fire over the Republican plan to revamp the health care program for seniors. This week, two Democratic groups launched radio ads and phone calls in the districts of more than 25 House Republicans. A GOP-leaning group, 60 Plus, responded with its own campaign of radio ads, direct mail and phone calls in most of the same districts (Meckler, 4/22).
The Hill: Collins Is First GOP Senator To Oppose Ryan Budget Proposal
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine.) said Friday that she will not support the 2012 budget passed by the House last week. "I don't happen to support Congressman Ryan's plan but at least he had the courage to put forth a plan to significantly reduce the debt," Collins said on "In the Arena" a program on WCSH 6, a local NBC affiliate in Portland, Maine. Collins is the first Republican senator to state publicly that she will not support the Ryan budget (Ryan, 4/22).
ABC News: Is Paul Ryan's Medicare Proposal Like Obama's Health Care Plan?
President Obama has dubbed Rep. Paul Ryan's 2012 budget "fairly radical." The Republican congressman from Wisconsin has claimed the president's Affordable Care Act "is accelerating our country toward bankruptcy." Underneath the rhetoric, however, Ryan's plan to reform Medicare -- a central part of his 2012 proposal -- bears some glaring similarities to President Obama's health care plan. It calls for setting up exchanges for older Americans similar to those proposed in the Democrats' health care plan that were widely panned by Republicans, even rejected by state leaders such as Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (Khan, 4/22).
Politico: Orszag Slams Ryan Medicare Plan
Former Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag charged Friday that Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plan would accelerate the rate of medical cost growth, not slow it down, by dismantling Medicare. ... Supporters of the Ryan plan have argued that competition from a new private market for subsidized insurance for seniors would drive down costs. But Orszag said the Congressional Budget Office analysis found that whatever cost savings might come from this competition would be more than offset by increased administrative costs of private insurance plans and the loss of Medicare's negotiating power to secure lower prices (Feder, 4/22).
Financial Times: Obama Seen As Failing On Economy
Even as he rubbed shoulders this week with the elite of Hollywood and Silicon Valley who will help bankroll his re-election campaign, the continuing struggles of ordinary Americans were not far from Barack Obama's mind. ... If Mr Obama can succeed in convincing those voters that the long-term deficit reduction plan proposed by Republicans would shift the burden of Medicare from the government to individual beneficiaries, possibly destroying the programme, he will have come a long way to bringing those voters back (Kirchgaessner, 4/22).