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"Republicans: A History of Attacking Medicare"


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"Republicans: A History of Attacking Medicare"

  1. 1. Republicans: A History of Attacking Medicare “[I]f you don’t [stop Medicare] and I don’t do it, one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.” –Ronald Reagan, 1961 George H.W. Bush: Described Medicare in 1964 as “socialized medicine.” [1964] “I was there, fighting the fight, voting against Medicare . . . because we knew it wouldn’t work in 1965.” – Bob Dole during his 1996 presidential campaign Former Republican Majority Proposed cutting Medicare. “In 1995, under the leadership of then House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA), Republicans proposed cutting 14% from projected Medicare spending over seven years and forcing millions of elderly recipients into managed health care programs or HMOs. The cuts were to ensure that Medicare is “going to wither on the vine,” Gingrich explained. Similarly, during the 2008 Presidential campaign, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) proposed cutting $1.3 trillion from Medicare and Medicaid.” [Think Progress, 7/29/09] Former Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich Wants Medicare to “Wither on the Vine.” “In a rare moment of candor last October, Newt Gingrich outlined his vision for eliminating Medicare funding. ‘We don't want to get rid of it in round one because we don't think it's politically smart,’ he said. ‘But we believe that it's going to wither on the vine because we think [seniors] are going to leave it voluntarily.’” [Mother Jones, 1996] Former Republican Majority Leader Dick Armey called Medicare “tyranny.” In an exchange on Meet the Press, Armey compared Medicare to tyranny: MS. MADDOW: This is a really important point. The anti-healthcare reform lobby thinks that Medicare is tyranny, OK? REP. ARMEY: I did—I said… MS. MADDOW: This is an—I mean, you said in 1995 that “Medicare is a program I would have no part of in a free world.” REP. ARMEY: Right. Absolutely right. MS. MADDOW: You said in 2002, “We’re going to have to bite the bullet on Social Security and phase it out over a period of time.” Former Republican Majority Leader Tom Delay wants to privatize Medicare. On Hardball with Chris Matthews, Tom Delay said, “"I want Medicare to be privatized. It shouldn't be a government program. It's the government run programs... Medicare, Medicaid and SCHIP that are driving up health care costs." [MSNBC, 8/19/09] Rep. Tom Price Claims “Nothing Has Had a Greater Negative Effect on the Delivery of Health Care” than Medicare. In an op-ed in the Politico, Price wrote, “Going down the path of more government will only compound the problem. While the stated goal remains noble, as a physician, I can attest that nothing has had a greater negative effect on the delivery of health care than the federal government’s intrusion into medicine through Medicare. Because of Washington’s one-size-fits-all approach, its flawed coverage rules and broken financing Prepared by the Office of Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Assistant to the Speaker
  2. 2. mechanisms, seniors are increasingly having care rationed while federal health spending spirals out of control.“ [Politico, 7/30/09] Rep. Roy Blunt Claims Government “Should Have Never Gotten in the Health Care Business.” According to Rep. Roy Blunt, chairman of the GOP Health Solutions Group, “you could certainly argue that government should have never have gotten in the health care business…Government did get into the health care business in a big way in 1965 with Medicare, and later with Medicaid, and government already distorts the marketplace.” [Fired Up Missouri, 7/9/09] House Republicans introduced Budget that would “end Medicare as it is presently known." “House Republicans are offering an alternative that eventually would end Medicare as it is presently known.” “Republicans in the House had even more defections on their alternative budget, losing 37 of the chamber's more moderate members in a 293-137 tally that rejected cuts to Medicare and the Medicaid health care program for the poor and disabled. What is more, GOP leaders are clearly nervous that votes in favor of the GOP alternative have exposed their members to political danger. The plan, drafted by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, top Republican on the House Budget Committee, called for eventually replacing the traditional Medicare program with subsidies to help retirees enroll in private health care plans. Current beneficiaries would keep their coverage and those 55 and older also would go into the current system.” [AP, 4/2 and 4/3/09] Prepared by the Office of Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Assistant to the Speaker