May 19, 2011
It’s Been an Especially Extreme Week for the GOP
First, Supporting the Wildly Unpopular House Republican Plan for Eliminating Medicare to Pay for Another Tax Break for Millionaires Became the New GOP Litmus Test as Former GOP Speaker Gingrich Incurred the Wrath of the Party Establishment After Calling the Ryan Plan What It Is -- “Radical Change” :
CNN: Newt Gingrich sparked this firestorm on Sunday when talking about Ryan's Medicare proposal, saying, "I don't think right-wing social engineering is any more desirable than left-wing social engineering. I don't think imposing radical change from the right or the left is a very good way for a free society to operate." Since then Gingrich has apologized to Ryan and conducted interviews with conservative commentators in what appears to be an attempt of damage control.
White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer is also weighing in on the Gingrich controversy, saying on Twitter Wednesday that the "biggest takeaway from the Gingrich flap – ending Medicare as we know it is the new GOP litmus test."
Meanwhile, at the same time the GOP establishment was turning up the heat on Newt for assailing the “radical” Ryan plan, House Republicans continued to feel the heat back home in their districts for voting for it :
Then on Tuesday, Senate Republicans blocked legislation supported by more than 70% of the American public to eliminate $21 billion in wasteful and unnecessary subsidies for the five largest, most profitable oil companies in the world that made $30 billion in profit in just the first quarter of 2011 :
New York Times: The Senate on Tuesday blocked a Democratic proposal to strip the five leading oil companies of tax breaks that backers of the measure said were unfairly padding industry profits while consumers were struggling with high gas prices. … The defeat on Tuesday was expected since most Republicans were dug in against what they saw as a politically motivated plan in advance of the 2012 elections. … Under the proposal, Democrats would have eliminated five different tax breaks enjoyed by the multinational oil companies, producing an estimated $21 billion over 10 years.
And Throughout the Week, More and More House and Senate Republicans Climbed Aboard the “Default Deniers” Crazy Train, Despite Warning from the Economic, Financial and Business Communities of the Dire Consequences of Failing to Raise the Debt Ceiling, including “likely push[ing] the U.S. into recession and drag down the stock market” :
Politico, May 17: Default deniers: The new skeptics They are the newest breed of government skeptics, the swelling ranks of Republicans who don’t believe the Obama administration when it says a failure to raise the debt limit will prove catastrophic. And they stand ready to make negotiations over raising the cap on debt as grueling as possible, making Treasury officials and Wall Street more nervous than ever that the country could suffer an unprecedented default with consequences no one can predict. The suspicion, which once flourished on only the conservative outskirts of economic circles, has seeped into the mainstream in recent weeks, gaining broader acceptance among establishment Republicans, even as the administration issues increasingly dire warnings.
MSNBC: GOP congressman: Default would benefit the U.S. By now, it shouldn't be a surprise that House Republicans are against raising the debt ceiling -- unless it's joined by a significant effort to reduce spending. But it is surprising when one GOP member says that defaulting on the debt and going through "a period of crisis" could actually be a good thing. California Congressman Devin Nunes (R) said in an interview: “By defaulting on the debt, in the short and long term, it could benefit us to go through a period of crisis that forces politicians to make decisions” on major policies that affect the budget, he told POLITICO.
Think Progress: Toomey: ‘I Doubt’ That Failing To Raise The Debt Ceiling ‘Would Be Disruptive To The Economy’: As former Reagan economic official Bruce Bartlett noted, “failure to raise the debt limit not only threatens a default that could potentially roil the entire world financial system, but would potentially deprive federal workers of their salaries, deny payments to businesses for goods and services sold to the federal government, renege on Social Security benefits to retirees, and shortchange savers who depend on interest income.” Bank of America analysts noted that not raising the debt ceiling “would necessitate politically unpopular and potentially economically crippling budget cuts that would likely push the U.S. into recession and drag down the stock market.” It would also make paying off the debt much more expensive (through higher interest rates). Those sure sound like adverse effects.
05.19.11 | permalink
May 17th, 2011
House GOP Back Home On Recess, Back Facing “catcalls,” “booing,” “hostile questions” After Voting to End Medicare to Pay for Another Tax Break for Millionaires, Big Oil
WGN 9 Chicago Evening News, 5/16/11: “‘Hands off my Medicare!’ was the message outside as Representative Paul Ryan was inside the Palmer House Hilton speaking to the Economic Club of Chicago. The Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee talking about his plan to cut and balance the budget which includes a controversial proposal to turn Medicare into a voucher program. Dozens of protesters marched outside chanting “Tax the Rich!” and carrying signs that read ‘Hands of My Social Security!’ and ‘Paul Ryan Plan: Let Them Eat Cat Food.’”
Watch It Here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85te2BA1DdU
Columbian (Vancouver, WA), 5/16/11: Crowd pulls few punches at Herrera Beutler town hall: U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler faced a boisterous, partisan crowd Tuesday evening at her first Vancouver town hall, where she fielded sometimes hostile questions about her vote to restructure Medicare and her reluctance to support raising the federal debt limit… Several hundred people showed up at Skyview High School for the session. They passed a couple dozen protesters near the entrance who hoisted signs saying, “Save Medicare: Tax the Rich” and “People not Profits.” … “My first priority is to preserve and protect Medicare for the present generation and for future generations,” she said. But when she insisted that the Republican budget blueprint for 2012 “protects Medicare,” a chorus of boos and catcalls and shouts of “liar” erupted in the auditorium.
MSNBC, 5/16/11: For one Rep., a mixed reaction on the Medicare vote. First-term Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler faced down some catcalls and booing at a two-hour town hall meeting with about 500 constituents Monday night at Skyview High School in Vancouver, Wash.
KSAZ FOX 10 (Phoenix), 5/16/11: Congressman Quayle Takes Heat for Medicare Decision: ANTHEM, Ariz. - It was one of the most provocative and memorable ads from last year's campaign. Ben Quayle, the son of former vice president Dan Quayle, while running for Congress proclaimed Barack Obama the worst president ever. And he also made a memorable promise to voters: "I love Arizona, I was raised right, someone has to go to D.C. and knock the hell out of the place.” Monday night at a town meeting in Anthem, it was Ben Quayle who got beat up a bit while meeting with his constituents. Many people in the crowd were fired up about about his stance on the proposed changes to the Medicare system. Quayle favors the Republican plan which would give seniors vouchers to buy health insurance on the private market.
Rep. Andy Harris takes Medicare budget debate to Berlin, Ocean City [Ocean City Today] “Harris brought the budget battle to Worcester County Saturday when he spoke at the Clarion Resort Fontainebleau Hotel in Ocean City and at Showell Elementary School. […] Harris defended the fiscal 2012 budget proposal introduced by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and approved by the Republican controlled House of Representatives. […] The auditorium was filled with senior citizens concerned about Medicare and, as with the numerous town hall meetings of 2009, the crowd reached pitched debate on health care issues. George Benton of West Ocean City was concerned about the costs for future generations and that costs could increase for existing beneficiaries within several years. “The Paul Ryan bill will kill Medicare as we know it,” argued Benton. “These good people want their tax dollars to go toward their grandchildrens’ costs. We’ve been borrowing all this money from China to pay for the Iraq War and for Bush-era tax cuts on the wealthy.” [Ocean City Today, 5/13/11]
WPBF (Palm Beach, FL), 5/16/11: Congressman's Meeting Interrupted By Shouting. Another town hall meeting organized by U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Plantation, devolved into a shouting match Monday night. About 100 people came to hear the congressman speak. Police escorted one person out of the meeting. But not everyone agreed with West's ideas on how to fix the nation's problems.
"I didn't agree with his explanation about Medicare. I'm very concerned about cutting Medicare and changing Medicare without looking at the revenue side," resident Dave King said.
Meanwhile, Speaker Boehner has decided to keep his head in the sand about the overwhelming public opposition to the Republican plan to do away with Medicare so billionaires(?) like Donald Trump can have another tax break, telling Face the Nation on Sunday:
REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNER: But you can ask any one of our members and they’ll tell you that on average eighty percent of the people at these town hall meetings--were supportive of taking big steps to put our fiscal House in order.
In reality, according to a recent poll conducted by The Hill:
By a 20-point margin, more Americans oppose Medicare cuts as part of action to control the deficit.
By a 32-point margin, American women and, by a 27-point margin, Americans age 40-64 oppose these cuts to Medicare.
57 percent of Independents and 89 percent of Democrats support rolling back tax cuts for those earning more than $250,000 in an effort to reduce the deficit.
05.17.11 | permalink
Date: May 12, 2011
To: Editorial Boards
From: Americans United for Change
Subject: The Truth Hurts for Republicans in Congress That Voted to End Medicare to Pay for Another Tax Break for Millionaires
What Hypocrisy, What Dishonesty, What Nerve: The Same Republicans That Falsely Accused Democrats of Gutting Medicare on the Campaign Trail and Then Turned Around and Voted to Abolish Medicare When They Got to Washington Are Now Crying Foul Over Well-Deserved Criticism of Their Actions, Deceit …
Talking Points Memo: ‘GOP Freshmen On Medicare Attacks: Let's Let Bygones Be Bygones’
New York Times: “Republicans Decry Tactics the Party Used Last Year”
Washington Monthly: ‘House GOP freshmen conveniently forget 2010’
It was a breathtaking display of hypocrisy. House Republicans gathered at the Capitol steps this week to cry foul over the well-deserved criticism they’re receiving, especially from their constituents back home, following their April 15th vote for a misguided and radical budget plan – a plan that seeks to “essentially end Medicare” by replacing it with system of ever-shrinking private insurance vouchers while at the same time doling out over $4 trillion in new tax breaks for millionaires, Big Oil companies, and corporations that outsource US jobs. Before the squeals get any louder, let’s get the facts straight.
It’s understandable that Republicans in Congress would love to “wipe the slate clean” when it comes to Medicare especially after many of them joined in the most well-coordinated, well-funded misinformation campaign of 2010, where seniors were purposely misled into believing that their Medicare benefits would be cut under the President’s new health care law. Ignoring the conclusions to the contrary at the time from independent fact checkers and the AARP, one after another, Republicans falsely accused their Democratic opponents of cutting Medicare’s guaranteed benefits and they did so with the help of millions and millions and millions of dollars worth of deceitful TV ads from Corporate front groups. The Golden Rule sure didn’t apply on the campaign trail, but now it should, they argue.
But there’s a seismic difference between the rhetoric GOP used in 2010 and the criticisms leveled their direction today: FACTS.
The fact is, Affordable Care Act did not cut guaranteed benefits for seniors … period. What the new health law did cut, as part of its efforts to rein in waste and abuse in the system, was billions of dollars in wasteful in subsidies to private insurance companies that offer the so-called Medicare Advantage program, a program which needlessly and inefficiently reinvents the Medicare wheel at the expense of all beneficiaries. As the Economic Policy Institute summarized before the ACA became law: “In a nut shell, Medicare Advantage plans are private plans funded through Medicare to provide similar benefits, but at a 14% higher cost on average, according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), an independent Congressional agency. Eliminating these overpayments would free up $157 billion over 10 years, a substantial down payment on health care reform.”
And as Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noted in a 2009 report: “The overpayments, which have totaled nearly $44 billion between 2004 and 2008, average more than $1,100 for each beneficiary enrolled in a private plan. By increasing Medicare costs, these overpayments also drive up premiums for beneficiaries in traditional Medicare by $86 per year for a couple, according to the chief actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. More than 31 million seniors and people with disabilities enrolled in regular Medicare are forced to pay higher premiums each month to subsidize these excess payments.’
By eliminating these wasteful subsidies to the private insurance industry, Medicare is today stronger than it has ever been before. Not only did the health law strengthen Medicare’s solvency by 12 years and not only do Medicare beneficiaries still have all the same guaranteed benefits they’ve always had, but seniors now have NEW benefits like free preventive care services and tens of thousands of enrollees who fall into the infamous Part D “donut hole” are saving an average of $800 per person thanks to a new 50-percent discount on covered brand-name drugs. And thanks to the Affordable Care Act, billions of dollars in waste, fraud and abuse in the system is getting tackled in a serious way – you may have see this recent headline: “In 'Largest-Ever' Bust, Medicare Fraud Task Force Arrests 111’
And the fact is, far from their campaign promises to protect Medicare, all but 5 House Republicans voted to shred the cherished social contract with seniors and dramatically shortchange them on their care. As The Economist put it, the GOP “plan ends the guarantee that all American seniors will have health insurance.”
The fact is, House Republicans voted to replace Medicare with a voucher system where seniors in their 60s, 70s, 80s and older are given a coupon and sent out into the private insurance market – a coupon that won’t keep up with the rising costs of health care and will leave seniors paying over $6,000 more out of their pockets for care. Not stopping there, the Republican plan would also slash $1.4 trillion from Medicaid, leaving up to 44 million Americans uninsured, including most nursing home residents, as well as disabled people of any age. And despite Republican claims to the contrary, not even today’s seniors would escape cuts in their Medicare benefits under the GOP plan as it would repeal provisions in the new health law that are working to fill in the Part D “donut hole” and help seniors pay for the medicines they need. In fact, under the GOP plan, next year alone, seniors currently in the donut hole would pay an additional $2.2 Billion for their Rx drugs.
As our organization asked GOP Representatives who voted for the Ryan budget in a recent TV ad: “What were you thinking?”
Bottom Line: Republicans in Congress Can Whine All They Want About the Heat They’ve Come Under In Recent Weeks, But The Fact Remains: They Approved a Plan in the U.S. House to End Medicare as We Know It to Pay For More Tax Breaks for Millionaires, and There’s No Running or Hiding From It
The GOP Budget is Wildly Out-of-Step With the American People: From the Washington Post, 4/20/11: The Post-ABC poll finds that 78 percent oppose cutting spending on Medicare as a way to chip away at the debt. On Medicaid — the government insurance program for the poor — 69 percent disapprove of cuts. … In his speech last week, the president renewed his call to raise tax rates on family income over $250,000, and he appears to hold the high ground politically, according to the poll. At this point, 72 percent support raising taxes along those lines, with 54 percent strongly backing this approach. … The proposal enjoys the support of majorities of Democrats (91 percent), independents (68 percent) and Republicans (54 percent).
05.13.11 | permalink
April 27th, 2011
SEE BELOW – it’s getting more and more “hostile” back home for House GOP that voted to end Medicare so millionaires can have another tax break – after facing “repeated heckling, boos and shouting matches” in their town hall meetings, now some are resorting to “screening questions” --- and the architect of the plan to turn Medicare into Coupon Care himself Paul Ryan felt he needed to “duck out a back entrance” to avoid local seniors waving “Hands Off My Medicare!” signs …
Politico: ‘Ryan dodges protesters in police car’. GOP Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan had to leave his last and most raucous town hall meeting Tuesday Elvis-style — ducking out a back entrance on advice of police as protesters surrounded his car. Ryan held four community meetings in his southeastern Wisconsin district Tuesday, and two of them attracted so many attendees that crowds of people — including reporters — were left waiting outside. The meeting in Kenosha, held in a hall with a capacity for 300, had an additional 200 gathered outside, with many of them protesting Ryan's plan to change Medicare.
MUST READ: Concord Monitor Editorial: Voters right to grill Bass on Medicare: Bass had the Republican script for such encounters. Traditional Medicare would be replaced not with vouchers but with a "premium support system." Please, Charlie, you're insulting people. Call it what it is: a voucher whose value increases more slowly than the cost of health care. The government saves money, but Medicare recipients pay a bigger share of the cost of health care every year. The nation's debt and deficit can't be reduced without doing more to control health care costs, including Medicare, but a voucher system is a heartless way to go about it.
The wave of town hall protests targeting House Republicans, and aided by labor and progressive groups, is forcing lawmakers to put restrictions on the forum’s traditionally open structure. On Tuesday night, Rep. Allen West’s office (R-Fl.) reportedly screened questioners during his town hall event by requiring individuals to fill out index cards which were then vetted by his staff.
NYT: House G.O.P. Members Face Voter Anger Over Budget: In central Florida, a Congressional town meeting erupted into near chaos on Tuesday as attendees accused a Republican lawmaker of trying to dismantle Medicare while providing tax cuts to corporations and affluent Americans. At roughly the same time in Wisconsin, Representative Paul D. Ryan, the architect of the Republican budget proposal, faced a packed town meeting, occasional boos and a skeptical audience as he tried to lay out his party’s rationale for overhauling the health insurance program for retirees… After 10 days of trying to sell constituents on their plan to overhaul Medicare, House Republicans in multiple districts appear to be increasingly on the defensive, facing worried and angry questions from voters and a barrage of new attacks from Democrats and their allies.
Washington Post’s Plum Line: Paul Ryan heckled by angry protestors: This will generate a lot of chatter today: According to WTMJ in Wisconsin, Ryan himself got a real earful at a town hall meeting from protestors who are furious over his proposal to end Medicare as we know it.
Seniors held up signs saying “hands off my Medicare,” and chanted that Ryan should “stop lying,” according to the report. Also note that Ryan was forced to leave in a different vehicle than he arrived in.
AP: Congressional Republicans go home to mixed reviews: Freshman Rep. Daniel Webster was armed with a rainbow of graphs and pie charts, ready to make the GOP's case for budget cuts before his own constituents. He was barely a minute into his prepared remarks Tuesday when the yelling started. The first heckler shouted his doubts about the Florida congressman's promise to do what is right in Washington. From there, the hour-long meeting in Orlando was filled with a constant stream of boos and questioners in the crowd of 300 shouting over each other.
Daniel Webster Orlando Town Hall
Orlando Sentinel: Angry crowd at town-hall meeting could be the norm for Dan Webster: A town-hall meeting held in Orlando by U.S. Rep. Dan Webster degenerated into bedlam Tuesday, with members of the crowd shouting down the freshman Republican congressman and yelling at one another. It could be a sign of things to come for Webster, a staunch conservative in a competitive district that Democrats hope to recapture in 2012.
WFTV (Orlando): Rep. Webster Faces Hostile Crowd In Orlando: ORLANDO, Fla. -- Freshman Republican congressman Dan Webster faced repeated heckling, boos and shouting matches between supporters and opponents during a town hall meeting in Orlando.
RAW VIDEO: Things Get Heated At Town Hall
CNN: Crowd turns loud at town hall session for freshman GOP rep: House Republicans back home for congressional recess have been getting some tough questions about plans to overhaul Medicare, but GOP freshman Daniel Webster's town hall meeting in Orlando, Florida, Tuesday was beyond tough - it turned into a chaotic scene. Webster used charts and graphs to try to explain the controversial House GOP budget he voted for, but he could barely be heard over angry yelling - mostly about the Medicare proposal.
Politico: Overflow crowds for Ryan town halls: In the district’s Democratic stronghold of Kenosha, at least 200 people were left outside once the 300-seat auditorium filled to capacity. The people in the crowd largely opposed the Ryan plan, holding signs such as “RyanCare = Dying Bare,” “Leave Medicare Alone” or simply, “Save Medicare!” While Ryan spoke inside, the group rallied outside and ironically played Shania Twain’s “Ka-Ching,” which criticizes society’s obsession with money. As Ryan was leaving, they chanted, “Tax the rich, too!”
MSNBC: House Republicans regroup amid Medicare anger: The Republican plan to fundamentally restructure Medicare and cut social safety net programs like food stamps and Medicaid has at times been a raucously tough sell as its supporters head home and meet with their constituents, including Democrats organized against them. Even the architect of the plan, Rep. Paul Ryan, has been booed, though many of those attending four meetings Tuesday in his home state of Wisconsin were supportive.
CBS News: Angry voters crowd GOP town meetings: The town meetings in this mostly rural district are normally intimate affairs. But this week, constituents from Twin Lakes to Kenosha are being turned away as capacity crowds inside come to praise or condemn the plan Ryan likes to call the "path to prosperity." "Your plan screws the next two generations," one constituent is heard telling Ryan.
WNYT: Rep. Gibson defends Republican budget plan (VIDEO): It's 'deja vu' for reporters covering town hall meetings and for members of Congress, taking flak over health care reform. But unlike two years ago when it was the Democrats in the hot seat, this time it's the Republicans defending a plan to overhaul Medicare and Medicaid… Congressman Chris Gibson had some explaining to do in Malta on Tuesday night.
Outside Chris Gibson’s Malta Town Hall
Palm Beach Post: West, like Republicans at home district meetings nationwide, draws hecklers on Medicare: Inside the meeting, West was less than a minute into his remarks tonight when two or three men began shouting from the audience. "How about our Medicare that you're stealing?" shouted one. "How about allowing questions from the audience?" shouted another man, apparently dissatisfied with West's decision to answer written questions submitted by audience members before the meeting.
Sun Sentinel: Democrats turn tables on Republicans, disrupt town halls: Taking a page from the tea party activists who hammered Democrats at their town hall meetings two summers ago, liberal partisans are making signs, preparing pointed questions, and turning out for Republican congressional town hall meetings.
04.27.11 | permalink
April 25th, 2011
HOUSE GOP CONTINUE TO FACE “OUTCRY” AND “HOSTILITY” ACROSS THE COUNTRY OVER THEIR VOTE TO END MEDICARE (AND SOME REFUSE TO FACE THE PUBLIC)…
LA Times: House Republicans face backlash at home over budget plan Standing in a brightly lit bingo hall off a wooded road, a space that doubles as the dining room for Danny's Friday night fish fry, Republican Rep. Charles Bass should have felt a long way from the pressure-cooker of budget politics in Washington. But in many places, Democrats turned out to express their opposition, much as Republicans had done in the healthcare debate. In a Pennsylvania coal town, a man outraged by the GOP budget plan was escorted out of a town hall by police. In Wisconsin, Rep. Paul D. Ryan, the architect of the Republican plan, was booed in his own district as he outlined the proposal. He struggled to defend the GOP plan vigorously, once mischaracterizing a key element. By the time he left, he seemed less than wedded to the details. "If there are certain facets of the budget that are manifestly unpopular, I think that should be taken into consideration, but it's too soon," he said. "This is the beginning of a long conversation." … Some were openly skeptical of Republican promises that current seniors would be protected. "I don't trust these guys," said Barbara Walden, 77.
National Journal: Republicans in Swing Districts Take Heat for Supporting Ryan's Medicare Plan: Republicans who used seniors’ rage over health care changes to sweep into office last fall are now facing the same type of heat over the same issue: Modifications in Medicare and Medicaid. Many who voted for the plan House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., laid out to privatize the programs in future years have been in constituents’ crosshairs during Easter recess town-hall meetings. Others have simply avoided meeting with constituents. All but four House Republicans voted in favor of Ryan’s plan. House Republican leaders plan to hold a conference call with members Tuesday. Republicans with knowledge of the call say that it has long been scheduled, but that part of the call will be spent discussing ways to discuss the vote with constituents. One source says it’s intended to help swing-district members "who have been getting the crap kicked out of them." … some freshman Republican House members who were swept into office on that wave of hostility are facing the same experience.”
Politico: Freshman feel the heat back home: Any lawmaker in a swing district can expect to take criticism from his right flank at a town hall meeting. But at an American Veterans outpost tucked deep in the Pocono Mountains this week, freshman Republican Rep. Lou Barletta took heat from every direction — from Democrats angry with the tax cuts in the GOP budget, to conservatives who thought he caved on the last continuing resolution vote, to a precocious 16-year-old critical of the lawmaker’s environmental record. First Barletta was told “not to be steadfast in Paul Ryan’s Republican plan,” to “bend a little, work and come together to pass something that’s agreeable to everybody.”
ABC News: Republican Lawmakers Face Angry, Confused Constituents on Medicare, Budget Cuts: The backlash that some Republican members of Congress are facing in town hall meetings over their 2012 budget proposal rings a familiar bell. As Republican members take to the road during their two-week break from Congress to try and sell the budget proposal crafted by Rep. Paul Ryan, they are facing similar questions, though the outcry thus far has not yet escalated to the level that their Democratic counterparts faced. Americans are particularly concerned, and somewhat confused, about the proposal to overhaul Medicare, a central feature of the Wisconsin congressman's proposal.
USA Today: Republicans in Congress get earful on Medicare: Some Republicans in Congress are getting an earful back home over their votes to dramatically revamp Medicare for seniors. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who proposed changing the federal entitlement into a voucher program, got booed at such a meeting in his district last week. Rep. Charlie Bass, R-N.H., who represents a district that voted for Democrats Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential contest and John Kerry in the 2004 race, was questioned about Medicare in his swing district. So was freshman Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa., who heard from Democrats such as Linda Christman at his town hall meetings. "You said nothing in the campaign about 'I'm going to change Medicare.' Now you voted for a plan that will destroy Medicare," Christman said.”
Washington Post: Republicans facing tough questions over Medicare overhaul in budget plan: Anxiety is rising among some Republicans over the party’s embrace of a plan to overhaul Medicare, with GOP lawmakers already starting to face tough questions on the issue at town hall meetings back in their districts. House leaders have scheduled a Tuesday conference call in which members are expected in part to discuss strategies for defending the vote they took this month on a budget that would transform the popular entitlement program as part of a plan to cut trillions in federal spending.
The Hill: Left hopes for town-hall rage of its own: If video of angry constituents haranguing members of Congress over healthcare reform captured the tone of that policy debate, Democrats and their allies hope that similar clips will emerge in 2011 to define the coming battle over Medicare and entitlement reform. If video of angry constituents haranguing members of Congress over healthcare reform captured the tone of that policy debate, Democrats and their allies hope similar clips will emerge in 2011 to define the coming battle over Medicare and entitlement reform. Left-leaning groups pushed the idea last week that Americans all over the country are outraged at Republican legislators and have been confronting them at town halls to voice their opposition.
NPR, 4/22: DANIEL KRAKER: People at the town hall were much less sympathetic to Gosar's vote in favor of the House budget bill that would significantly transform Medicare. It's a risky vote in a state like Arizona, where retirees known as snowbirds flock to the desert sun and vote in high numbers. Ms. SUSAN COSENTINO: I'm horrified by the plan to turn Medicare into a voucher system. I think it'll just send the seniors into poverty. KRAKER: That's retiree Susan Cosentino. The hundred or so people at the town hall in Sedona were mostly seniors. Another, Anne Leap, also works with retirees. She runs a small business connecting them with services they need to live independently. Ms. ANNE LEAP: Seniors at the lower end are so frightened by all this, and seniors at the upper end, they're just - many of them are just outraged. It's a scary time for us.
04.25.11 | permalink
April 22nd, 2011
House GOP Facing “Angry,” “Booing,” “Tough Crowds” Back Home After Voting to End Medicare, Give Millionaires Another Tax Break …
TIME, 4/21 : The Ryan Budget Vote: An Upstream Swim for Charlie Bass : Hillsborough, NH Rep. Charlie Bass knew he was in for a rough night. The first question out of the gate during his Wednesday town hall in Hillsborough, NH was about his vote for Paul Ryan’s budget. And the second. And the third and the fourth, fifth and sixth questions.
ThinkProgress, 4/20: ‘VIDEO: Paul Ryan Booed At Town Hall For Defending Tax Breaks For The Wealthy.’ During a town hall meeting in Milton, a constituent who described himself as a “lifelong conservative” asked [Congressman Paul] Ryan about the effects of growing income inequality in our nation. The constituent noted that huge income disparities contributed to the Great Depression and the Great Recession, and thus wanted to know why the congressman was “fighting to not let the tax breaks for the wealthy expire.” Ryan argued against “redistribut[ing]” in this manner. After the constituent noted that “there’s nothing wrong with taxing the top because it does not trickle down,” Ryan argued that “we do tax the top.” This response earned a chorus of boos from constituents.
Wall Street Journal, 4/22 : LANSFORD, Pa.—GOP Rep. Lou Barletta sought to assuage fears during the town-hall meeting Wednesday by walking constituents through a series of charts illustrating the swelling costs of Medicare and the impact on U.S. debt if the program isn't tamed. But he was interrupted frequently during the presentation by people speaking up to air their concerns. Linda Christman, a 64-year-old Lehighton resident who last fall voted for Mr. Barletta's Democratic opponent, said it wasn't enough for the congressman to promise her that Medicare would still be there for her. Ms. Christman said she wanted to make sure the program would be there for her niece, her children and her grandchildren. "You said nothing in your campaign about 'I'm going to change Medicare,'" she said. "Now you're voting for a plan that will destroy Medicare."
Think Progress, 4/22 : ‘Town Hall Citizens Confront Rep. Sean Duffy For Voting To Privatize Medicare And Defend Tax Breaks For Rich.’ On Tuesday, Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) was the latest congressman to face the ire of Main Street America during a town hall event with constituents who stopped being polite and started getting real. First, constituents explained they were upset that Ryan’s plan would cut off people under the age of 55 from Medicare. Then, others directly challenged Duffy about defending tax breaks for the wealthy for voting to effectively replace Medicare with a voucher system.
CNN, 4/21: Freshman Congressman faces tough crowd back home, after budget vote Philadelphia (CNN) – In the suburbs of Philadelphia, freshman Congressman Patrick Meehan is spending his day running around his district, answering questions from his constituents. During the two week Congressional break, the Pennsylvania Republican is fitting in five different town hall meetings in just one day. … Meehan was asked about entitlement reform and Medicare at nearly every town hall he went to. Some of his constituents say they're worried about proposed Republican reforms to the Medicare system. "Reform usually means cutting benefits, if it's cutting benefits, no, I do not want that," says constituent Bette Popiel.
Daily Herald (IL), 4/16: [Congressman Robert] Dold couldn't even get to the end of the presentation before audience members began peppering him with questions about the Ryan budget, named after House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin … Some in the audience then told Dold they don’t like the idea in the Ryan budget plan of Medicare becoming a voucher program that makes senior citizens buy private health insurance about 10 years from now. Audience members said buying private insurance is a shell game where no one really knows what costs a company will cover or to what degree.”
Think Progress, 4/22 : GOP Rep. Patrick Meehan Faces Constituent Anger After Breaking Campaign Promise To Not Privatize Medicare. GOP Rep. Patrick Meehan (PA) faced a “tough crowd” back home after voting for Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget proposal that would effectively end Medicare by privatizing it and handing seniors over to the private health insurance industry. …Meehan was asked about entitlement reform and Medicare at nearly every town hall he went to. Some of his constituents say they’re worried about proposed Republican reforms to the Medicare system. “Reform usually means cutting benefits, if it’s cutting benefits, no, I do not want that,” says constituent Bette Popiel.
The Hill, 4/21: ‘Another GOP lawmaker's town hall heats up over Ryan plan’ GOP Rep. Lou Barletta's (Pa.) local town-hall meeting got heated on Wednesday night over his party's proposal to overhaul Medicare. Earlier this week, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the architect of the plan, was booed at a town hall in his district.
Washington Examiner, 4/22: ‘Republicans face town hall anger over vote for Paul Ryan budget (Video)’. The summer of 2009 was dominated by town hall anger against Democrats for their plans on health care reform. Now, in the summer of 2011, Republicans are experiencing some backlash for their deficit reduction plan.
Huffington Post, 4/21: GOP Reps Host Town Halls On Budget, Get Yelled At : Now, Congress is out of session and House Republicans are returning to their districts to tout the benefits of Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wisc.) plan to turn Medicare into a system of worthless vouchers, and guess what? Town halls are getting heated once again.
WashingtonPost.com, 4/21: GOP gets a taste of tough town halls. In the summer of 2009, Democratic legislators working on health care reform were met with angry protesters at town halls in their districts. Now, Republicans home for a short break are seeing a similar reaction against the budget proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). GOP Reps. Charlie Bass (N.H.), Lou Barletta (Pa.) and Robert Dold (Ill.) have all been hectored. And Ryan himself was booed. So far, the protests are scattered and have yet to approached anything close to the reaction to the health care bill in 2009.
Think Progress, 4/21 : More Republican Congressmen Face Town Hall Backlash Over Tax Breaks For Wealthy And Medicare Privatization. Earlier this week, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) held town halls across his district to defend his budget’s plan to end Medicare and extend tax cuts for the wealthy. During a stop in Milton, WI Ryan’s constituents made their feelings apparent, booing down the seven-term congressman when he defended tax breaks for the rich, as ThinkProgress first reported. Yesterday, Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) received the same hostile reception from his constituents for voting to end Medicare. This town hall backlash is now spreading to other districts across the country. As Huffington Post reports, freshmen Reps. Robert Dold (R-IL) and Charlie Bass (R-NH) got an earful from their constituents for voting in favor of the Republican budget this month. During a Buffalo Grove, IL town hall, Dold caught a lot of flack for supporting corporate tax breaks and voting to end Medicare.
Times Union (Albany, NY), 4/20 : Gibson explains Medicare vote. SALEM -- Some left-leaning constituents asked about [Rep. Chris] Gibson's support for continuing the 2001 tax cuts and were concerned with the proposed Medicare changes ... The Republican budget plan, approved Friday largely along party lines, with Gibson's vote, seeks to replace the system with one in which future Medicare retirees would get a lump-sum payment to put toward premiums in one of several federally approved health plans. Democrats have been blistering in their criticism, saying the "vouchers" given under the plan will "eliminate" the program as it is known, where seniors are covered for various health care services.
St. Petersburg Times (FL), 4/22 : ‘Proposed Medicare cuts bring out political swords’ . WASHINGTON — The intensifying debate on Capitol Hill over the national debt has seemed abstract for many Americans, with incomprehensibly big numbers and concepts. But throw Medicare into the mix and suddenly it's a lot more personal. "From a political standpoint, Medicare reform is very dangerous territory," analyst Charlie Cook wrote in the National Journal in advance of Republican approval of the 10-year budget blueprint that contained the Medicare overhaul. (It would contribute to an overall $5.8 trillion in spending cuts.) "House Republicans are not just pushing the envelope — they are soaking it with lighter fluid and waving a match at it." A Washington Post-ABC News poll released this week showed 78 percent of Americans oppose cutting spending on Medicare as a way to trim the debt, currently at more than $14 trillion. The poll should send chills through Republicans in districts with many seniors or those with a healthy percentage of Democratic voters.
The Nation, 4/22 : Town Hall Meltdowns, Hundreds Protest Cuts. It appears the GOP plan for slashing budgets isn’t receiving the warmest of welcomes from its constituents. Earlier in the week, a town hall audience booed Representative Paul Ryan when he defended tax breaks for the rich. That backlash was one of several town hall meeting eruptions that occurred across the country. Freshmen Reps. Robert Dold (R-IL) and Charlie Bass (R-NH) both received hostile greetings from citizens of their respective states. Dole caught flack for supporting corporate tax breaks and voting to end Medicare: But Dold couldn’t even get to the end of the presentation before audience members began peppering him with questions about the Ryan budget, named after House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin. It began with audience members telling Dold they don’t believe chopping 10 percentage points off the highest corporate tax rate will create jobs.
04.22.11 | permalink
The New York Times has a great OpEd this week.
Adam Kinzinger of Illinois is one of the new Republican lawmakers swept into office last month on a promise to change the ways of Washington. “If we look like we’re doing business as usual,” the congressman-elect told a reporter last month, “then obviously the American people will say, ‘Well, what was that all about?’ ”
That’s a good question because one of the first things Mr. Kinzinger and many of his fellow freshmen did after examining their new offices on Capitol Hill was to hang out an “open for business” sign to the world of big-money lobbying and corporate fund-raising.
To pay off his campaign deficit, Mr. Kinzinger held a “debt retirement breakfast” on Nov. 19 at the Capitol Hill Club. Suggested donation: $5,000 for political action committees, and $2,400 for individuals. The political action committee of the National Automotive Dealers gave him $2,500 after the election, among other corporate givers.
As The Washington Post reported on Monday, several dozen freshman lawmakers have held these fund-raisers around town in the days after the election, raising at least $2 million in just the last month.
The high-spending campaign that ended in November was odious enough, but there is something even more unsavory about giving to a candidate after the election, when the outcome is known and the link between power and currying favor is even more evident.
That didn’t stop Bill Flores, a newly elected representative from Texas who held a fund-raiser to collect money from ExxonMobil and the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors. Or Dan Benishek of Michigan, who took in money from Delta Air Lines and the K&L Gates lobbying firm. Or Chris Gibson and Michael Grimm of New York, Francisco Canseco of Texas, and David Schweikert of Arizona, among many others.
Representative Eric Cantor, the incoming Republican leader who has also vowed to shake up the ways of Washington, is having a fund-raiser this week at Ceiba, a high-end Washington restaurant, to celebrate the Seinfeld-inspired holiday of Festivus. The minimum contribution to Mr. Cantor’s political action committee is $500, although it is free to those who have already maxed out their donations.
The corrupting power of money in Washington is an old, bipartisan game. But this year’s Republican class ran with such virulence against the establishment that this rush to the trough seems especially hypocritical. “What was that all about,” Mr. Kinzinger, and friends?
12.07.10 | permalink
As Social Security Marks 75th Anniversary, New Ad Sounds the Alarm on Renewed GOP Privatization Scheme
TV Ad From Americans United for Change Follows Launch of Major Mobilization Effort in 10 States Pressuring Politicians to ‘Take a Stand’ on Rep. Paul Ryan’s Budget ‘Roadmap’ to Handing Social Security Trust Fund Over to Wall Street
08.25.10 | permalink