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Ron Johnson Blows Up GOP’s Spot On Medicare Trickery

Johnson Makes Clear That Republicans Are Being Vague About Medicare To Avoid “Slaughter…In The Next Election”

Johnson Voted Three Times For Ryan Budget That Would Turn Medicare Into A Voucher And Increase Costs For Seniors

The newly released Republican Senate budget attempts to remain vague enough that voters won’t immediately see the new majority’s desire to dismantle Medicare and balance the budget on the backs of seniors. But Ron Johnson hasn’t been so subtle.

Yesterday, Bloomberg reported that the Senate Republicans’ budget proposal won’t include any specific cuts to Medicare because “few senators are eager to run on a budget that would cut benefits for senior citizens.”  But thanks to Ron Johnson, voters can rest assured that this isn’t a sudden change of heart, but rather a cynical political ploy to avoid an election-year catastrophe. Here’s Johnson explaining the motive:

“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?”

There’s just one problem, well actually three problems. Ron Johnson has already voted three times for the Ryan budget, which would end Medicare as we know it and increase costs for seniors. But now that he’s one of the Senate’s most vulnerable incumbents, he’s running scared from his dangerous and unpopular views.

“Ron Johnson voted to gut Medicare and increase costs not once, not twice, but three times, and now he’s desperately trying to run from his record of supporting risky budget proposals,” said Sadie Weiner, DSCC National Press Secretary. “Now that it’s an election year, Johnson is cynically trying to fool voters, but he won’t be able to hide his many votes to end Medicare as we know it and increase costs for seniors. In 2016, Wisconsin voters will remember his record when it comes to protecting seniors.”

BACKGROUND:

JOHNSON HAS REPEATEDLY SUPPORTED THE RYAN BUDGET…

Johnson Voted For The Ryan Budget. In March 2013, Johnson voted against the Murray, D-Wash., amendment no. 433 that would replace the text of the resolution with language to provide $2.769 trillion in new budget authority in fiscal 2014, not including off-budget accounts. It would assume that the spending levels required by the sequester remain in place and that non-war discretionary spending for all future years will be at post-sequester levels. It would assume that all discretionary savings from the sequester beginning in fiscal 2014 will come from non-defense programs. It would assume $4.6 trillion in reductions over the next 10 years in both discretionary and mandatory spending. It would assume repeal of the 2010 health care overhaul and a restructuring of Medicare into a “premium support” system beginning in 2024. It would call for an overhaul of the tax code, under which the alternative minimum tax would be repealed, the six current individual income tax brackets would be consolidated into two and tax credits and deductions would be eliminated or curtailed. The amendment was rejected by a vote of 40-59 (D 0-52; R 40-5; I 0-2). [CQ, 3/21/13; S.Amdt. 433 to S.Con.Res. 8, Vote 46, 3/21/13]

Johnson Voted For The Ryan Budget. In May 2012, Johnson voted in favor of the Conrad, D-N.D., motion to proceed to the concurrent resolution that would allow $2.794 trillion in new budget authority for fiscal 2013, not including off-budget accounts. The measure was rejected by a vote of 41-58 (D 0-51; R 41-5; I 0-2). [CQ, 5/16/12; H.Con.Res. 112, Vote 98, 5/16/12]

Johnson Voted The Ryan Budget. In May 2011, Johnson voted in favor of the Reid, D-Nev., motion to proceed to the concurrent resolution that would allow $2.859 trillion in new budget authority for fiscal 2012. The motion was rejected by a vote of 40-57 (D 0-50; R 40-5; I 0-2). [CQ, 5/25/11; H. Con. Res. 34, Vote 77, 5/25/11]

…WHICH WOULD END MEDICARE AS WE KNOW IT AND INCREASE COSTS

Wall Street Journal: The Ryan Budget “Would Essentially End Medicare.” “The budget has been prepared by Rep. Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican and the new chairman of the House Budget Committee […] The plan would essentially end Medicare, which now pays most of the health-care bills for 48 million elderly and disabled Americans.” [Wall Street Journal, 4/4/11]

  • Reuters: The Ryan Plan “Calls For An End To The Guaranteed Benefit In Medicare And Replaces It With A System That Would Give Vouchers To Recipients To Pay For Health Insurance,” Which Could Increase Costs For Seniors. “Ryan’s plan calls for an end to the guaranteed benefit in Medicare and replaces it with a system that would give vouchers to recipients to pay for health insurance. The risk in such a plan is that if healthcare costs rise faster than the value of the vouchers, seniors would have to pay the difference.” [Reuters, 8/12/12]

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: The Ryan Budget “Would Replace Medicare’s Guarantee Of Health Coverage With A Flat Premium-Support Payment, Or Voucher.” “The Medicare proposals in the 2015 budget resolution from House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) are much the same as those in Ryan’s previous budgets. Once again, Chairman Ryan proposes to replace Medicare’s guarantee of health coverage with a premium-support voucher and raise the age of eligibility for Medicare from 65 to 67. Together, these changes would shift costs to Medicare beneficiaries and (with the simultaneous repeal of health reform) leave many 65- and 66-year-olds without health coverage. […] The Ryan budget would replace Medicare’s guarantee of health coverage with a flat premium-support payment, or voucher, that beneficiaries would use to purchase either private health insurance or a form of traditional fee-for-service Medicare. Premium support would apply to all new beneficiaries starting in 2024 and to any other beneficiaries who chose to participate.” [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 4/8/14]

 

The Ryan Budget Would Re-Open The Medicare Prescription Drug Donut Hole. According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, “Among other elements, the House GOP budget would repeal: The provisions that closed the ‘doughnut hole’ in Medicare Part D.” [Bipartisan Policy Center, 3/12/13]

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