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Republican’s Voting Mishap Creates Unique Opportunity

May 22, 2011

I was amazed, yes amazed when the gang of GOPers in Washington lined up behind Paul Ryan’s absolutely non-serious (though many will tell you it is) plan to systematically destroy the social safety net in this country.  His plan to decimate Medicare with a ridiculous voucher system is so out of whack with the needs of this country’s elderly population (think baby-boomers starting to retire) that I remember saying to myself: “people who vote for this now will have to defend themselves later because elderly people VOTE.”  Well, that sentiment is echoed in an Editorial in the NYTimes today.

I hope the vote for Ryan’s plan has consequences this election cycle, we have seen what happens (think Wisconsin, Michigan, New Jersey, Indiana, etc…and their plans to strip unions) when the right-wing faction of the GOP, which is Tea Party backed gets in control.  Fairness goes out the window and corporate charity ensues.

“Democrats insist they have a chance of regaining the House next year. It will not be easy, but the Republican plan to radically reshape Medicare is alienating fence-sitting voters and highlighting the sharp differences between the two parties’ visions of government.

The Medicare argument has certainly been potent in New York’s 26th District, in the Buffalo-Rochester area, where a special election will be held on Tuesday to fill the seat of Christopher Lee, who resigned. Though the district is strongly Republican, the Democratic candidate, Kathleen Hochul, the Erie County clerk, is competitive. The Republican, Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, has had to struggle to defend a highly unpopular policy. The presence of a third candidate, from the Tea Party, is also a large factor in the closeness of the race.

In a televised debate on Wednesday, Ms. Hochul repeatedly accused Ms. Corwin of supporting the House Republican plan to create a voucher system, which, she said, would “effectively decimate” Medicare. Ms. Corwin responded that the plan proposed by Representative Paul Ryan did not involve an actual paper voucher, which is beside the point.

Mr. Ryan would end the government’s guaranteed payment for a set of medical services for the elderly, changing to a system in which the government would simply help the elderly buy private insurance. If health costs went up beyond what insurance would pay, tough luck. Ms. Corwin defended that by saying it would prevent Medicare’s inevitable bankruptcy.

She tried to sow confusion, arguing that Ms. Hochul and the Democrats wanted to cut hundreds of millions from Medicare. That argument helped defeat many Democrats in 2010, but the changes in health care reform pale in comparison to a plan that would leave Medicare unrecognizable. Beyond calling Ms. Hochul a “career
politician,” Ms. Corwin had little to say when she was accused of “balancing our budget on the backs of seniors” while continuing huge tax breaks for the wealthy and oil companies.

An anti-Corwin ad, paid for by unions, shows a Medicare card going up in flames, and it is likely to become a familiar image in many Congressional races next year. Democratic robo-calls are already pushing the Medicare issue hard in districts across the country.

Republican House members brought this on themselves by voting nearly unanimously for the Ryan plan, so caught up in ideological fervor and hubris that they failed to anticipate the inevitable voter backlash. While the House leadership has acknowledged that the Medicare plan will not pass, the party will not allow any dissent. When Newt Gingrich called the plan “right-wing social engineering,” he was all but shunned from the presidential nomination race, and was forced to recant and apologize.

Democrats cannot ignore the fiscal drain from Medicare. President Obama is right that the government needs to do a lot more to restrain the growth in Medicare spending. But there is a huge difference between looking for efficiencies and other reforms and privatizing Medicare. A sense of buyers’ remorse in districts across the country is allowing Democrats to make a newly vigorous pitch.”


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