Campaign Fear Themes: GOP Picks Medicare; Dems Take Social Security
"Democrats and Republicans are waging an intense fight for the loyalties of older voters, who turn out reliably in midterm elections and whose fears have been stoked this year by the battle over health care," The Wall Street Journal reports. Republicans are telling the the health law "will cripple Medicare by cutting $500 billion from the program," while Democrats say the GOP plans to "gut Social Security." Seniors rely on one program as the payer for much of their health care, and the other for financial support. "And each party rejects the other's accusation. But in district after district, millions of dollars are being spent on television ads by candidates and outside groups to accuse their opponents of seeking to topple these pillars of the New Deal and Great Society" (Bendavid and Merrick, 9/29).
"Accusing Republicans of wanting to do away with Social Security is a well-worn trope for Democrats," the Los Angeles Times reports. "But a slew of 'tea party'-backed candidates who have called for privatizing or eliminating the program have given Democrats fresh ammunition at a time when they are on the defensive about health care reform and the financial stimulus" (Gold, 9/28).
The Associated Press: Separately, there is a brighter side to recent changes to Medicare that Democrats may highlight. "Reversing a steady decline, the number of prescription plans covering at least some brand-name drugs in the 'doughnut hole' coverage gap will triple next year, from 35 to 106. That's according to an analysis of Medicare data to be released Wednesday by Avalere Health, a private research firm." The gap would be fully closed by the health law by 2020 (Alonso-Zaldivar, 9/29).
Reuters: Meanwhile, a bipartisan commission set up by President Barack Obama is forming proposals of its own- due Dec. 1 - to change Social Security. The group "is considering changes to the Social Security retirement program and a variety of tax increases, but doubts about its potential to come up with a solid deficit-cutting plan are widespread" (Drawbaugh, 9/28).