DNC Flings Medicare Charge Back at GOP
Updated 2:45 p.m.
By Ben Pershing
After weeks of fending off allegations that their health-care reform proposals might cut or weaken Medicare, Democrats have launched a new ad campaign aimed at volleying that charge back at the GOP.
Having announced a national ad on the topic last week, the Democratic National Committee will begin airing targeted spots today in the districts of 10 House Republicans saying the lawmakers "want to end Medicare." The ads will run against GOP Reps. Michelle Bachmann (Minn.), John Boehner (Ohio), Eric Cantor (Va.), Mary Bono Mack (Calif.), Erik Paulsen (Minn.), Paul Ryan (Wis.), Jean Schmidt (Ohio), Lee Terry (Neb.), Patrick Tiberi (Ohio) and Don Young (Alaska). A DNC aide said the cost of the ad campaign would be "six figures."
"Republicans want to end Medicare," says the narrator of one such ad. "You heard right, John Boehner actually voted to abolish Medicare for future generations -- one of the most important programs for seniors.
"America's seniors have relied on Medicare for over forty years -- and Democrats are working to strengthen Medicare. But the plain truth is, Republicans have opposed Medicare from the start. Their leaders have called for cutting Medicare -- and now for killing it. Congressman John Boehner -- No Friend of Seniors."
The ad campaign bases its central charge on the House GOP's alternative budget proposal, which failed, 137-293, when it came up for a vote in the chamber in April. Ryan, the plan's author, wrote at the time in the Wall Street Journal that the Republican proposal would "preserve the existing Medicare program for all those 55 or older; and then, to make the program sustainable and dependable, those 54 and younger will enter a Medicare program reformed to work like the health plan members of Congress and federal employees now enjoy."
Under the plan, younger workers would keep their private health coverage once they retired but would have their premiums subsidized by the government. Democrats suggested the GOP budget would have meant significant cuts to Medicare spending.
But the nonpartisan Factcheck.org called the DNC's central charge "not true." The GOP's Medicare proposal, the group says, "is controversial, to be sure: Most Democrats don't like it, and not all Republicans do either. It's a plan to change Medicare significantly but not to 'abolish' it." And the GOP's alternative budget wouldn't actually have made new law on Medicare even if it had passed, it simply would have recommended future legislation on the subject.
Republicans are dismissive of Democrats' new tactic.
"Dick Gephardt called and he wants his talking points from the 1990s back," said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel. "This is a feeble attempt to distract from the fact that Washington Democrats are backing hundreds of billions of dollars in Medicare cuts, and American seniors are furious about it."
The DNC's campaign comes after Republicans had intensified their own effort to suggest that Democrats plan to slash Medicare spending. The GOP last month unveiled a "Health Care Bill of Rights for Seniors" that vowed the party would protect Medicare from the $500 billion in cuts Democrats would allegedly make. Fact.Check.org has called that claim "false."
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