Dems, GOP Continue Heavyweight Fight Over Medicare Proposals
Democrats and Republicans are looking for their next messaging steps on proposals to slow the growth of Medicare costs in the wake of a congressional election and talks to tackle to mounting debt.
The Hill: House GOP Not Backing Away From Ryan Medicare Proposal
House Republicans are underlining their support for Rep. Paul Ryan's Medicare reforms a week after the bitter loss of a New York congressional seat. Even as newly emboldened Democrats hopeful of retaking the House intensify their criticism, there seems little appetite or inclination among Republicans for modifying their approach even if that approach ends up carrying electoral costs. "To back away from this or to get skittish for fear of losing a few seats or even the majority would be pretty darn irresponsible," Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) told The Hill (Stange, 5/31).
National Journal: Republicans Lay Out New Way To Talk About Medicare
Republicans say they know the party bungled its message on Medicare and that, if it wants to dull its impact, it needs to find a new way to talk about a program that many voters are highly protective of. ... It's a daunting enough challenge. ... They have two ways to do it: one, emphasize to voters that if the Republican plan isn't adopted, there won't be any Medicare in the near future because the program will become insolvent. Second, dust off attacks from 2010 and tell voters that Democrats, when they passed their health care bill, are the only party to cut the program for seniors already on it - Republicans used that strategy ad naseum in attack ads last year that the health care bill included $500 billion in cuts to the entitlement program (Roarty, 5/29).
The New York Times: Seeing The Advantage In Delaying A Solution
Soon enough, Democrats will have to identify new Medicare cuts they can support. But don't expect them to come this spring, not after the Medicare plan put forward by House Republicans became the centerpiece of the Democrats' strategy to recover from disastrous 2010 midterm elections. The Democrats' first answer, Medicare spending cuts contained in Mr. Obama's health care law, won't satisfy partisan adversaries who see the law as a budget-busting monstrosity. ... The Democrats' second answer: ratchet up the savings mechanisms in the health care law (Harwood, 5/29).
Kaiser Health News: Fact Check: Pat Boone On The Ryan Plan
Kaiser Health News staff writer Marilyn Werber Serafini reports: "As some Republicans distance themselves from the unpopular House-passed budget that would radically change the Medicare program, the conservative seniors group 60 Plus isn't backing off. ... 60 Plus' celebrity spokesman, crooner Pat Boone, today released a statement promising to "lace up my white shoes and spread the news far and wide that this administration is trying to mislead and scare seniors." The Medicare proposal would raise the eligibility age to 67 and convert the program from a government-run, guaranteed-benefit system to one in which seniors get a set amount of money to buy private health insurance. ... Here's a look at some of Boone's claims" (Werber Serafini, 5/27).
Kaiser Health News covered weekend developments on Medicare politics, including the Sunday talk shows:
The New York Times: Surprise Victory In New York Invigorates Democrats Looking To 2012
Sal Pace, the Democratic leader of the State House in Colorado, was already preparing to run for Congress in a district captured by Republicans last year, but his party's special election victory last week in a conservative district in upstate New York made the decision all the easier. "The New York race confirmed what I thought citizens would feel about Medicare," said Mr. Pace, who is expecting to soon begin a campaign to oust Representative Scott Tipton, a freshman Republican, in southwestern Colorado. "People are very hesitant to end Medicare as we know it" (Hulse, 5/30).
Roll Call: Building A Race Against Ryan
Rob Zerban thinks he can knock off a Wisconsin giant next fall. And Democrats on Capitol Hill agree that this 42-year-old businessman, a former Republican with limited experience in county politics, could be their best shot at defeating House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R) in more than a decade Indeed, as Ryan's national profile balloons, his 2012 re-election campaign in Wisconsin's 1st district could be growing more difficult. ... recent polling suggests that Ryan's popularity among independents and Democrats, a group he will need to hold his moderate district, is falling (Peoples, 5/31).
Bloomberg: Ryan Says Rich Should Pay More As Sanders Defends Entitlements For Wealthy
Bernie Sanders, the U.S. Senate's only avowed socialist, may be the chamber's fiercest advocate of taxing the rich to cut the federal deficit. That doesn't mean he wants to reduce their Social Security and Medicare benefits. Representative Paul Ryan, the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee, wants to give the wealthy big tax breaks to encourage them to invest and create jobs. He also wants to take away many of their retirement benefits. Lawmakers who have spent years battling over taxing high-earning Americans are trading places when it comes to cutting their entitlements (Faler, 5/31).
The Hill: Who Said That? Dems And GOP Display Dizzying Shift On Medicare Rhetoric
Just a little over a year ago, Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) took to the House floor to warn America of the perils facing seniors if Democrats' health care reform bill wasn't stopped. "Can you go home and tell your senior citizens that these cuts in Medicare will not limit their access to doctors or further weaken the program instead of strengthening it? No, you cannot," the then-minority leader asked his colleagues last March (Pecquet and Klatell, 5/30).