An opponent of Barack Obama’s proposed reforms to health care told attendees at a South Carolina town hall that Democrats should “keep your government hands off my Medicare.” But Democrats are now trying to correct the record: it’s the GOP that’s long opposed Medicare, slashing funding and in April proposing to convert it into a voucher program. Now the Democratic National Committee is rolling out the message in a new commercial targeting GOP House members – including Minnesota’s Erik Paulsen and Michele Bachmann.
The GOP has long opposed Medicare. In 1961, Ronald Reagan said its passage would lead the country toward socialism (see first video).
Four years later, Medicare was passed. Bob Dole, who was Senate Majority Leader at the time, later bragged, “I was there, fighting the fight, voting against Medicare … because we knew it wouldn’t work.”
In April, according to the AP, “most Republicans voted in favor of a budget proposal that would end Medicare in its current form for people under 55, offering vouchers instead to pay for private health care accounts.”
That message gets top placement in the Paulsen ad (here’s the Bachmann version):
“Republicans want to end Medicare. You heard right, Erik Paulsen actually voted to abolish Medicare for future generations — one of the most important programs for seniors. America’s seniors have relied on Medicare for over 40 years — and Democrats are working to strengthen Medicare. But the plain truth is, Republicans have opposed Medicare from the start. Their leaders have called for cutting Medicare — and now for killing it. Congressman Erik Paulsen — No Friend of Seniors.”
So, are the claims true? Steve Benen of Washington Monthly says, “Actually, yes.” He continues:
But did Republicans vote to “end,” “abolish,” and “kill” Medicare? It’s provocative, but it’s a supportable claim. In April, 137 Republicans voted in support of a GOP alternative budget. It didn’t generate a lot of attention, but the plan, drafted by the House Budget Committee’s Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) called for “replacing the traditional Medicare program with subsidies to help retirees enroll in private health care plans.”
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