Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Romney Declares To Save Medicare By Privatizing It As A Voucher Progam

Mitt Romney told a group of seniors on Monday night that “we will never go after Medicare or Social Security. We will protect those programs.” Barely a month ago, Romney became a strong backer of the Paul Ryan budget which would essentially end Medicare by privatizing it into a corporate insurance company voucher program.

Mitt Romney is trying to “change his tune,” DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz said on Tuesday. “We had always assumed he’d be here saying anything to voters in the Sunshine State to get elected.”

Tuesday, Democrats highlighted policies Romney has supported in order to argue that his promise to protect the two entitlement programs is “patently dishonest.” In addition to his support for Paul Ryan, his own plan creates a voucher Medicare system, which in their phrase leaves traditional Medicare to “wither on the vine.” And beyond Medicare, Romney’s support for a Cut, Cap, and Balance approach to the budget would result in drastic cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

Romney has been careful in his campaign comments to leave the door open for the Ryan plan, or a similar reform effort, by hinting that in order to “protect” Medicare it might be necessary to reform it.

“So if I’m president, I will protect Medicare and Social Security for those that are currently retired or near retirement,” Romney assured the seniors he spoke to, adding, “and I’ll make sure we keep those programs solvent for the next generations coming along.”

Romney and Ryan propose to privatize Medicare by converting it into a corporate insurance voucher program for everyone younger than 5o years of age.

How committed to ending Medicare is the Republican Party? Committed enough to resurrect in 2012 Republican Rep. Paul Ryan's Medicare voucher plan of 2011, the plan that enraged seniors and helped Democrats win a special election in the House.

The Republican Party endorsed Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) sharply conservative 2011 budget bill when all but four Republicans in the U.S. House voted for and passed the bill before the 2011 Easter recess.

Breaking a promise Republicans made during the 2010 mid-term election to "protect Social Security and Medicare" Ryan's budget bill deeply cuts Medicare funding and replaces with a private insurance premium voucher program.

Ryan's Republican budget eliminates Medicare, as it exists today, and guts Medicaid as well as the rest of the government. The budget also gives additional huge tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires plus further big corporate taxpayer handouts to pharma, insurance and petrochemical industries. The Republican budget explodes deficit spend in the near term and doesn't actually balance revenues and spending until the year 2040.

Collin County's Republican Congressional representatives Sam Johnson, Tx-3rd and Ralph Hall, Tx-4th voted for Ryan's bill.

In contrast to the conservative budget passed by House Republicans, the Congressional Progressive Caucus has proposed a budget that balances the budget in just ten years without cutting Social Security and Medicare. The Progressive plan repeals the Bush tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, which saves three trillion dollars. Second, the plan cuts corporate taxpayer handouts to pharma, insurance and petrochemical industries and adds a new income tax bracket for billionaires. That raises at least an additional three trillion dollars. In the next decade the plan also cuts defense spending by about $1.8 trillion. The Progressive plan also lifts the Social Security payroll cap of $106,800 per year (2011) so that wealthy individuals who take home millions and billions of dollars in earnings every year can pay their fair percentage share of Social Security support, too.

The Progressive plan not only protects and strengthens Social Security and Medicare for decades to come, it puts America back to work through infrastructure and high tech investments.

The right-wing has been trying to dismantle the New Deal since its inception, but they have been caught between what their ideology calls for -- getting rid of Social Security, Medicare and much of the rest of government -- and what the public will accept. Republican Alf Landon ran for president in 1936 on a vow to repeal the new Social Security program. After President Bush won reelection in 2004 he pushed a GOP legislative agenda to "privatize" Social Security and Medicare.

RNC Chair Michael Steele

Ad aired by GOP candidate Dan Coats against incumbent
Democratic Congressman Brad Ellsworth in Indiana.
Coats charges - "Ellsworth was faced with a choice
protect Indiana's seniors or side with the Obama-Pelosi
agenda and cut $500 billion from Medicare - the largest
cut in U.S. history. Guess which one he picked?"

Yet, in the 2010 midterm campaign Republicans ran as protectors of Social Security and Medicare on scare claims that the Democratic legislative agenda threatened those programs.

Republicans charged that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obama Care) passed by Congress and signed by President Obama on March 23, 2010 endangered senior citizen's Medicare coverage.

Then RNC Chair Michael Steel appears in an RNC ad spot (left) proclaiming the GOP Senior Bill of Rights.

The ad that GOP candidate Dan Coats ran against incumbent Democratic Congressman Brad Ellsworth in Indiana (left) is representative of GOP messaging against Democrats nationwide.

In 2010 Republicans successfully convinced seniors that Democrats wanted to slash $500 billion from Medicare, which covers 46 million elderly Americans, and ultimately ration senior health care through death panels to end Medicare coverage as we know it.

The GOP rode a gray wave to victory in 2010, winning voters age 65 and over with a 21 point margin by terrifying seniors about "death panels" and warnings about Democrats slashing Medicare funding. Despite the fact that the Affordable Care Act does not impact Medicare's core benefits.

Republicans very successfully ran devastating ads darkly warning of seniors of Armageddon. For the first time since Democratic Congresses and Presidents enacted Social Security on August 14, 1935 and Medicare on July 30, 1965 Democrats were not seen as the champions and protectors of America's safety net programs. (see charts left)

Now that Republicans control the House they are attempting to "privatize" Social Security and Medicare, just as President Bush wanted to do after he won reelection in 2004.

The House GOP budget passed in mid-April makes even deeper cuts to Medicare funding and eliminites the same programs like Medicare Advantage that Republicans decried during the 2010 elections.

Social Security Works has assembled a set of slides that illustrate the Democratic Party's striking decline in voter opinion on the issue of Social Security. They're all worth seeing, but one of them especially demands attention:

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