MEMO: Republicans Hiding On Medicare

TO: Interested Parties


RE: Republicans Hiding On Medicare

DATE: 3/26/15

As we approach a slew of amendment votes on the budget in the Senate, one thing has been made imminently clear – vulnerable Republican Senators up for re-election in 2016 are running scared from their records of voting to end Medicare as we know it.

What They’re Saying (Or Not Saying) Now

The Republican Senate budget is intentionally vague about the details of how to achieve their promised cuts, particularly when it comes to Medicare. Apparently, these Senators think they can pull a fast one by refusing to explain details. Just ask Ron Johnson of Wisconsin who foolishly telegraphed their strategy in the press. Here’s Johnson, speaking to Bloomberg about entitlement reform and the budget:

“What you’re asking me is, yeah, hey, Republicans, why don’t you go on a kamikaze mission here and why don’t you lead and give your political opponents all this ammunition to just slaughter you in the next election?”

And Johnson again, to The Hill:

              “Let’s face it, these solutions aren’t going to be fun,”

The issue has left Rob Portman (R-K Street) so flustered that he actually tried to punt to the relevant committee before realizing he was on said committee and stammering around an answer that conveniently glosses over his votes to turn Medicare into a voucher program. He toldThe Hill:

“It’s typical of budgets that we ask the committees of jurisdiction to actually figure out the details,” said Portman…“I’m on the committee of jurisdiction, so I’m going to be in it one way or the other,” said Portman, a Senate Finance member.

It’s obvious this is hardly a true change of heart from their previous votes. These Senators aren’t standing up to offer a full-throated defense of Medicare. Instead they’re simply sweeping their records under the rug and offering a wink and a nod that indicates they’ll be right back to cutting Medicare after the political consequences aren’t so great.

Their Votes Speak For Themselves

These vulnerable Republicans are simply trying to fool voters into thinking they don’t have plans to cut Medicare. But voters have long memories, and you don’t need to look much farther than their multiple votes to turn Medicare into a voucher program to know where they truly stand. And just last night, Senators Ayotte, Blunt, Burr, Johnson, Kirk, Portman, and Toomey voted against an amendment to strongly oppose privatizing Medicare or turning Medicare into a voucher program. [Vote 90, 3/25/15]

If their votes weren’t enough, take a look at their previous statements on their beloved plan to turn Medicare into a voucher program:

Ron Johnson:  Johnson Voted For The Ryan Budget Three Times. [Vote 46, 3/21/13; Vote 98, 5/16/12; Vote 77, 5/25/11]

Johnson Said The Ryan Budget Showed “Courage” And Wanted To Go Even Further In Slashing Programs. [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 4/29/11]

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Johnson “Voted Yes On The Ryan Plan” And “Called Medicare Unsustainable Without Structural Changes.” [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 5/25/11]

Rob Portman: Portman Voted For The Ryan Budget Three Times. [Vote 46, 3/21/13; Vote 98, 5/16/12; Vote 77, 5/25/11]

Portman: “Congressman Ryan’s budget Plan Is A Substantive Proposal” That Will Cut Spending In Part By “Tackling Entitlement Reform.”  [U.S. Senator Rob Portman, Press Release, 4/5/11]

Kelly Ayotte: Ayotte Voted For The Ryan Budget Three Times. [Vote 46, 3/21/13; Vote 98, 5/16/12; Vote 77, 5/25/11]

Ayotte Said Ryan Plan Was An Example Of “Leadership” On The Budget, Said It Put “Us On A Sustainable Path, Addressing The Rising Costs Of Medicare.” [Washington Post, 2chambers, 5/23/11]

Pat Toomey: Toomey Voted For The Ryan Budget Three Times. [Vote 46, 3/21/13; Vote 98, 5/16/12; Vote 77, 5/25/11]

Toomey Introduced Budget Proposal That Adopted “The Longer Term Medicare Changes In The Ryan Budget” That Would Turn Medicare Into A Voucher Program And Increase Costs For Seniors. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 5/9/12]

Mark Kirk: Kirk Voted For The Ryan Budget Two Times. [Vote 46, 3/21/13; Vote 77, 5/25/11]

Richard Burr: Burr Voted For The Ryan Budget Three Times. [Vote 46, 3/21/13; Vote 98, 5/16/12; Vote 77, 5/25/11]

2012: Burr Unveiled His Own Medicare Voucher Plan, Similar To The Ryan Plan. [Associated Press, 2/16/12]

National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare: Burr’s Plan “Doubled Down On Congressman Ryan’s Voucher Plan Offering What Appears To Be The Same Failed Privatization Approach To Medicare Reform.” [National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare, 2/16/12]

Roy Blunt: Blunt Voted For The Ryan Budget Three Times. [Vote 46, 3/21/13; Vote 98, 5/16/12; Vote 77, 5/25/11]

Blunt On Ryan Plan’s Medicare Cuts: “Not A Radical Idea.” [Real Clear Politics, 5/17/11]

Vulnerable Republicans Can’t Run Forever

As their elections draw closer, these vulnerable incumbents will employ lots of tricky rhetoric and careful dodges on a variety of issues, but perhaps none will be as egregious as their attempts to hide their votes to end Medicare as we know it. But such slanted and selective history can only carry them so far once their constituents pick up on the scam they are trying to run, and they will.

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