Medicare Politics Heat Up, Already Driving Presidential Campaign
The Associated Press: GOP Presidential Contenders Drift To The Right
The Republican Party's rightward drift is causing headaches for the presidential hopefuls on the issue of Medicare, a potential minefield in the general election. House Republicans passed a bill that eventually would convert Medicare to a less costly, less generous program ... Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich touched off a firestorm by calling the plan radical. He spent the better part of a week trying to recant, change the subject and get his campaign back on track. Pawlenty, after promising to offer his own Medicare plan, acknowledged conservatives' priorities and said he would sign the House measure if it were the only choice before him. Romney hedged Friday on whether he would sign the House bill into law (Babington, 5/30).
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).
And, Medicare dominated the Sunday talk shows.
CNN: Republicans Still Seek Medicare Overhaul In Budget Talks
Top Republicans tiptoed their way around the Medicare question Sunday, playing to their conservative base by backing a controversial overhaul proposal while acknowledging they will have to negotiate the issue with Democrats. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, both told Sunday talk shows that all issues are on the table in deficit reduction talks led by Vice President Joe Biden intended to reach a deal on raising the federal debt limit (Cohen, 5/29).
The Associated Press: McConnell: Ryan Medicare Plan 'On The Table'
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on NBC's "Meet The Press" that he supports the controversial plan by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to transform Medicare into a voucher-like system in which future beneficiaries - those 54 and younger - would get subsidies to buy health insurance rather than have the government directly pay their doctor and hospital bills. ... "I'm personally very comfortable with the way Paul Ryan would structure it," McConnell said. "But we have a Democratic president. We're going to have to negotiate with him on the terms of changing Medicare so we can save Medicare" (Taylor, 5/29).
The Wall Street Journal: McConnell: Medicare Overhaul Must Be Part of Debt Ceiling Deal
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.,) appearing later on the same program, said Senate Democrats agree that Medicare needs changes to contain its costs, but he said Mr. McConnell and Republicans have to "take the Ryan plan off the table." Mr. Schumer said Democrats have proposed changes in the way Medicare pays for services including paying doctors based on a patient's condition, and the results of care, instead of maintaining the current system of paying based on services performed. Mr. Schumer also called for allowing Medicare to negotiate the prices of prescription drugs (White, 5/29).
MSNBC has video of Schumer and McConnell (Gregory, 5/29).
Politico: Cantor: Medicare Played 'Undeniable' Role In NY-26
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and newly elected Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz weighed in on the upset win by Democrat Kathy Hochul in New York's 26th Congressional District Sunday ..."As far as Medicare is concerned, there's a simple choice here - either we're going to save the program or let it go bankrupt," [Cantor said on CBS's "Face the Nation."] Wasserman Schultz, who appeared just after Cantor said, "Coming from the majority leader," who was one of the "architects" of a 2010 midterm congressional election victory "focused on scaring seniors about what Democrats were doing with Medicare, he would know" (Cogan, 5/29).
Bloomberg: Pawlenty Says He Would Sign Ryan Medicare Plan
Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, said that if he were in the Oval Office, he would sign the House-passed plan backed by Representative Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, to privatize Medicare. If the only choices were doing nothing like President Obama is doing and Paul Ryan's plan, I'd sign it," Pawlenty said today on ABC's "This Week" program. ... Republicans attempting to strike a deal with Democrats on raising the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling say they want to include Ryan's plan in any agreement (Edney, 5/29).
ABC News: 'This Week' Transcript: Tim Pawlenty and Mitch Daniels
AMANPOUR: What would you do differently than what Paul Ryan has done? And what's wrong with this plan that's freaking people out, apparently? PAWLENTY: Well, the current system can't continue. But our plan is going to have some of these features. One, we're not going to pay Medicare providers under my plan just for volumes of services provided. We're going to pay for better results and better health care outcome, and we're going to put hospitals and clinics and providers on a performance pay system, not just a volume pay system. ... And we'll also have incentives, financial incentives to make wise choices as it relates to cost and quality of health care (5/29).
The Hill: Medicare: The Latest Round In The Great American Healthcare Fight
Both parties agree the entitlement program faces a financial crisis and needs to be fixed, but while the House GOP budget written by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) relies on market competition to do so, Democrats say this would ruin the program. ..."Change nothing, spend everything and go broke that's seems to be the only Democratic plan,"" [Rep. Tom] Cole, R-Okla., said. ... [Rep. Chris] Van Hollen, D-Md., said that many of the provisions of the Obama healthcare reform have yet to go into effect, and many of these are intended to streamline Medicare and reduce costs. ... Get ready to rumble (Picard, 5/29).
McClatchy/Miami Herald: GOP Asks: Where is Democrats' Plan To Cut Deficits?
Members of Congress headed home this weekend for a holiday recess without any Democratic plan for reducing trillions of dollars in federal budget deficits over the next decade, and Republicans won't let them forget it. ... GOP lawmakers think they have a terrific issue in this to take to the voters, one that could even help cool the fire that's raging from the Democrats' charge that the Republican plan to end Medicare in its current form is an assault on seniors. ... One veteran analyst, Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion in New York, said the two issues wouldn't have the same impact on the public, however. "It's good to return fire, but it doesn't ease the concerns of seniors most aggrieved by the Republican proposal," he said (Lightman, 5/29).
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