For the third election cycle in a row, Republicans are attacking Democrats for Medicare cuts that are in the GOP’s own budget proposal.
On Wednesday, the National Republican Senatorial Committee kicked off a campaign to attack 12 Democrats for the $716 billion in 10-year Medicare cuts that were ordered by Obamacare. The cuts don’t target benefits — they reduce reimbursements to private insurers under Medicare Advantage and hospitals, among other providers. The Congressional Budget Office said they extended the life of Medicare by eight years, although insurance companies argue that the cuts will reduce access to care.
“By voting for ObamaCare, Democrats like Mark Pryor, Kay Hagan, Mary Landrieu and Mark Begich cut $717 billion from Medicare — including $154 billion from Medicare Advantage — which will hurt seniors,” said NRSC spokesman Brad Dayspring.
The same cuts were included in House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) blueprint to partially privatize Medicare and remake the federal budget, which Republicans in both chambers voted overwhelmingly for back in March. The same Medicare cuts were also included in Ryan’s budgets in 2012 and 2011, which similarly passed the Republican-led House and received overwhelming GOP support in the Democratic-led Senate.
Embracing the Medicare cuts during budget season hasn’t stopped Republicans from running against the cuts during election season. In 2010, the GOP pummeled Democrats for cutting Medicare. During the 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney and Ryan himself toured the country attacking the Medicare cuts and vowing to repeal them. Now the Senate GOP’s electoral arm, hopeful about retaking the majority in 2014, is attacking Democrats for the cuts.
The Democrats whom the NRSC will target for the Medicare cuts, according to CNN, are Sens. Mark Pryor (AR), Mark Begich (AK), Kay Hagan (NC), Mary Landrieu (LA), Mark Udall (CO), Tom Udall (NM), Dick Durbin (IL), Jeanne Shaheen (NH), Jeff Merkley (OR) and Al Franken (MN), along with Senate candidates and current Reps. Gary Peters (MI) and Bruce Braley (IA).
Ryan defends his decision to sustain the cuts by arguing that they’re baked into the budget baseline. He says he wouldn’t have done them in the first place, and points out that unlike Democrats, he doesn’t use the savings to fund Obamacare. His budget, while repealing the rest of the Affordable Care Act, effectively embraces its Medicare cuts by assuming the same level of savings in the program over the long run.
“Let me make it really clear. What we do in this budget is we stop the raid of Medicare,” Ryan told reporters back in March. “You have to remember, President Obama took money from Medicare to spend on creating Obamacare. We end that raid and we make sure all of those dollars go back to Medicare to extend the solvency of the trust fund.”
Ryan added that keeping the Medicare cuts “makes it easier” to balance the budget.