Dem Leadership Rips ‘Republican Plan’ To Privatize, Slash Medicare, Social Security

Congressional Quarterly/Newscom
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You thought Republicans were going to be able to wiggle away from their historic support for privatizing Medicare and Social Security? Think again.

Leading Democrats aren’t letting the GOP put much distance between themselves and a new, long-term budget proposal written by their top budget guy, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).

“That’s their budget plan,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)–chair of the House Democrats’ reelection committee–told me in a brief interview. “He’s the ranking Republican member on the Budget Committee. That is their so-called roadmap. And it’s a roadmap right into the economic ditch that we got ourselves to begin with…. Put it this way. For seniors on Medicare, it’s a dead end.”Van Hollen says Republicans should own up to their own ideas, and debate them on the merits, or else stop complaining when Democrats accuse them of being the Party of No.

“These guys got very sensitive about the fact that they had no ideas to put on the table,” Van Hollen said. “Well, it turns out they did have some ideas to put on the table. You gotta give Congressman Ryan credit for putting the proposal on the table. Now they should have to live with the consequences of that proposal.”

It’s interesting to hear they’re running away from that proposal. It’s an idea they put on the table. They told President Obama at the Republican conference, We’re not the party of ‘no,’ we’ve got ideas, and that was one of the major ideas they put on the table. I hope they’ll have the courage of their convictions to stick with it and defend it.

In a conference call with reporters this afternoon, a number of other senior Democrats said much the same.

“They are dusting off their old playbook, rehashing the policies that the American people have rejected in the past,” said House Democratic Caucus Chair John Larson (D-CT). “They want to privatize Social Security. They want to turn Medicare into a voucher program. And they’re providing tax breaks for the wealthy while they raise taxes on the middle class.”

Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) said much the same: “This is not new. These are ideas, but they’re not new ones. And privatization is on the row again by the Republicans.”

Earlier today, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) tried to distance himself from Ryan’s plan–but was unable to articulate any major disagreements with it. In response, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) suggested Republicans were fragmenting over the plan. “They’re either not on the same page or the leadership is walking away from this ill-found roadmap,” she said.

Welcome (again) to election season.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com
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