The Republicans are not reacting well to last night’s massive Democratic win in NY-26 which became a referendum on Representative Paul Ryan’s plan to end Medicare. Ryan tried awkwardly to laugh off the drubbing with the help of his dear buddy Joe Scarborough on MSNBC this morning but only looked like a petulant child in the process. His party is clearly on the defensive. His Leader – Speaker Boehner – haplessly fired off this tweet:
GOP Path to Prosperity preserves & protects Medicare for retirees & future generations & leaves it completely unchanged for those 55 & over
Uh yeah, okay. As Leader Pelosi’s office helpfully pointed out in this memo, it was Boehner, Ryan and the House Republicans who voted to:
Re-open the prescription drug ‘donut hole’ for current Medicare beneficiaries (including for “those 55 & over”) Nationwide, nearly four million seniors would pay $2.2 billion more for prescription drugs in 2012 alone. [ DPCC Report]
Eliminate the free annual wellness visit for current Medicare beneficiaries (including for “those 55 & over”) This could force at least one million seniors to pay over $110 million more for annual wellness visits in 2012. [ DPCC Report]
What’s that word again? That’s right – PWNed. The reality is not fun for national Republicans.
Even traditional media analysts are offering up the following ominous dose of conventional wisdom for the national GOP:
The reality is that the total fealty to the Ryan budget increasingly demanded of Republican presidential candidates by the party’s base runs directly counter to the unpopularity of making drastic cuts to Medicare among the general electorate.
Not only is that a major political problem for the party but it’s one without a simple solution.
Of course the Republicans think that the simple solution here is to
lie “message” their way out of it:
“I think we need to be more aggressive in defining that Obamacare cuts Medicare,” said Christian Ferry, a senior Republican consultant. “Then, if the Ryan plan is our position for going forward, we need to actually get out there and define what it is and what it is not in an aggressive, offensive manner, rather than allowing the Democrats to play gotcha, scare politics as they did in NY-26.”
Aaah, yes. Ferry and his GOP cohorts think just lying harder about Affordable Care Act is going to make their problems go away. That is not going to happen because more than a year has passed since ACA became law and not a single senior has seen their Medicare benefits cut. What the new health care law did do away with was waste and abuse in the form of billions of dollars, filling up the pockets of private insurance companies (Republican sugar daddies). As noted by the Economic Policy Institute, "[e]liminating these overpayments [to private insurance companies] would free up $157 billion over 10 years.” You can read more about the waste and abuse issue that ACA eliminated in this Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report. So trying to make their Medicare problem go away by crying about needless subsidies to the big insurance companies as “cuts” is just not going to work.
So, back to the main event. What are the Senate Republicans going to do tomorrow? Are they going to bear hug a Ryan budget that even Republican Senators like Olympia Snowe are calling "a race to the bottom"? Think about what someone like Senator Dean Heller is going to do. Is he going to vote to kill our Medicare program and throw our seniors off the cliff twice? He already voted to do it once as a member of Boehner’s crazy GOP caucus. Imagine the problems that will create for him in a battleground state like Nevada.
If all the so-called “moderate” Republican Senators abandon ship when the RyanCare comes on the Senate Floor, that will pull the rug out of all the Republican Congressmen – voting to end Medicare – representing districts that were won by President Barack Obama in 2008. Any way you look at it, the picture is not pretty for the Republicans. It’s no wonder they are sounding like petulant children today.
(h/t Heather for the video)