Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Older Voters Oppose Romney/Ryan Medicare Voucher Plan

A Pew Research survey in June of 2011 found that those 65 and older had a very negative reaction to Ryan’s plan to change Medicare into a voucher plan: 51% opposed the plan (including 43% who opposed it strongly) compared with only 25% who favored the plan. This could spell trouble for every Republican listed on the ballot with the GOP Romney/Ryan Presidential duo, given that age group is a key GOP voting block.

Trouble because Paul Ryan and nearly every Republican in the U.S. Senate and House, breaking a promise Republicans made during the 2010 mid-term election to protect Social Security and Medicare, voted for Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) sharply conservative 2011 budget bill.

Ryan's conservative budget bill eliminates Medicare, as it exists today, and replaces with a private insurance premium voucher program. Ryan's Republican budget also guts Medicaid. Ryan's budget takes the money cut from Medicare to give additional tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires. Ryan's budget even gives big taxpayer handouts to big pharma, insurance and petrochemical industries. The Republican budget explodes deficit spending in the near term and doesn't actually balance revenues and spending until the year 2040.

Romney has admitted he would sign the Ryan budget if it crossed his desk, calling it “marvelous” and an “important step.”

Romney adviser Ed Gillespie said last weekend following Romney's announcement of Ryan as his VP pick, "Well, as Governor Romney has made clear, if the Romney, sorry, if the Ryan budget had come to his desk as a budget, he would have signed it, of course, and one of the reasons that he chose Congressman Ryan is his willingness to put forward innovative solutions in the budget.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said, "First of all, he did embrace the Ryan budget. He embraced it."

The June 2011 Pew survey found that most seniors said they were happy with how Medicare and Social Security operated. About six-in-ten (61%) said Medicare does an excellent or good job serving the people it covers; 57% said the same about Social Security. By contrast, most of those under 65 said these programs do an only fair or poor job.

In addition, just 33% of those 65 and older said they think Medicare needs major changes or needs to be completely rebuilt. Similarly, few seniors (30%) supported major changes or a complete rebuilding of Social Security. Support for changing Social Security and Medicare was far higher among those under 65.

Voters 65 and older are much more likely than younger voters to name Social Security as a top potential voting issue. A June 2012 survey found about as many senior voters saying Social Security is the issue that matters most to their vote (45%) as saying jobs (48%).

Seniors – along with the public overall – prioritize the protection of Medicare and Social Security benefits over deficit reduction by wide margins. In June 2011, two-thirds (66%) of those 65 and older said it is more important to keep Social Security and Medicare benefits as they are compared with just (20%) who prioritized deficit reduction.

A wide majority of seniors (66%) said people on Medicare already pay enough of the cost of their health care, compared with 24% who said people on Medicare need to be responsible for more costs to keep the program financially secure. Most seniors (54%) also said low income people should not have their Medicaid benefits taken away, compared with 34% who said states should be able to cut back on who is eligible for Medicaid to deal with budget problems.

In addition to presenting challenges among seniors, the issue of entitlements divides the GOP base.

Among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, 63% of those with family incomes of $75,000 or more say it is more important to take steps to reduce the budget deficit; a nearly identical percentage (62%) of Republicans with incomes of $30,000 or less say it is more important to maintain Social Security and Medicare benefits as they are.

Read the full Pew Research Report.


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