So RNC chairman Michael Steele took to the pages of the Washington Post to warn seniors, “we need to protect Medicare and not cut it in the name of ‘health-insurance reform.'” A convenient refrain for the current political climate, but, in bad news for Michael Steele, a complete departure from GOP business as usual. Here, for instance, is an October, 2006 exchange on cutting Medicare between Tim Russert and–wait for it–Michael Steele.
MR. RUSSERT: What programs would you cut?
LT. GOV. STEELE: Well, what I would like to do is something that we did in Maryland. We — Governor Ehrlich and I came into office, we had a $2.2 billion deficit staring us in the face and a bloated government to contend with. And so we stepped back and evaluated exactly what the priorities of our government should be. Seventy-eight percent of our spending is in two areas: education and health care.
MR. RUSSERT: It’s the same in the federal government.
LT. GOV. STEELE: It’s the same. And my point…
MR. RUSSERT: Seventy percent is Social Security, Medicare and Defense.
LT. GOV. STEELE: Absolutely. Absolutely.
MR. RUSSERT: Would you touch those?
LT. GOV. STEELE: Abso — Tim, everything has…
MR. RUSSERT: Everything’s on the table.
LT. GOV. STEELE: Everything has to be on the table, my friend. We are living in a time — we have to — government has to act like the rest of, the rest of the world and sit back and look at your budget. If you don’t have enough money in any given month, what do you do? You’ve got to reprioritize. You’ve got to take care of the business at hand.
So much for that, I guess.