What Was Congressman Steve King Thinking When He Voted to End Medicare?

April 25, 2011                                                                

New TV Ad Asks: What Was Congressman Steve King Thinking When He Voted to End Medicare As We Know It So Millionaires Can Have Another Tax Break?


Americans United for Change Hits the Airwaves in Sioux City to Raise Awareness About the King-GOP Plan to Replace Medicare with Ever-Shrinking Private Vouchers and Slash Medicaid Funds Leaving 114,691 Iowans Without Care to Pay for Trillions of Dollars in New Tax Giveaways for Big Corporations



Click Here to View ‘What Were You Thinking?’ :


Washington DC –  A new TV ad is airing this week in Sioux City that asks U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-IA-5) “What Were You Thinking” when he voted on April 15 in support of the radical Republican budget plan authored by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) that seeks to replace Medicare with ever-shrinking private vouchers and force millions of seniors, low-income children and people with disabilities off Medicaid while giving millionaires and big corporations and oil companies another tax break – a plan that is wildly out of step with the American people.   See script below for “What Were You Thinking?,” an effort sponsored by progressive issue-advocacy group Americans United for Change to educate the public about the Republican plan to benefit their friends in the insurance industry while raising out-of-pocket costs on future seniors’ by over $6,000


Tom McMahon, Executive Director, Americans United for Change: “What is Congressmen King thinking demanding that Iowa’s most vulnerable citizens make more sacrifices but millionaires and big corporations to make less?  If Rep. King had his way, there would be no more guaranteed Medicare benefits for Iowa’s seniors, only a guarantee of paying more and more out-of-pocket for less care after being left to the mercy to the private insurance industry.  There would only be a guarantee that Iowa’s less fortunate and people with disabilities will live sicker and die younger while millionaires get another tax break they don’t need, the nation can’t afford and that don’t create jobs.”


The King-GOP budget plan is a Roadmap to Ruin for America’s Seniors, Less Fortunate, and Disabled:


Ø  Ends Medicare As We Know It. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Ryan plan “would essentially end Medicare.”  Indeed, it calls for replacing the efficient Medicare system with an inefficient voucher system that would leave seniors at the mercy of the private insurance industry. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office: “Under the proposal, most elderly people would pay more for their health care than they would pay under the current Medicare system.”  As the AARP notes: “The Chairman’s proposal, rather than tackling skyrocketing health care costs, would simply shift these costs onto the backs of people in Medicare.”

Ø  Replaces Medicaid With a ‘Block Grant’ That Would Shift Costs to States, Leave 114,691 Iowans Without Care.  Ryan’s budget would covert Medicaid into a ‘block grant’ to the states that will not cover raising health care costs and do nothing to contain those costs.  According to CBO, block granting Medicaid would shift those costs to states, beneficiaries, and health care providers.  Those hit hardest would be low-income children, seniors, and people with disabilities who make up the bulk of Medicaid beneficiaries and who rely on long-term care such as nursing homes. In fact, according to a recent analysis, “The GOP Plan Could Force At Least 114,691 Iowa Residents Off Medicaid.”

Ø  Robs From The Poor, Elderly, and People With Disabilities to Give to The Rich: The Ryan plan would dole out trillions of dollars in new tax cuts for the wealthiest individuals and corporations.  As CBS News notes: “The Ryan budget plan … would eventually reduce the corporate tax rate and the top tax rate for the wealthiest Americans from 35 percent to 25 percent” – the lowest top rate since President Hoover.  According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Ryan plan would “produce the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in modern U.S. history, while increasing poverty and inequality more than any measure in recent times and possibly in the nation’s history.

Ø  Completely Out-of-Touch with the American People.   From the Washington Post, 4/20/11:  [A new] 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). 




“What Were You Thinking?”

Ad Back-Up

Americans United For Change

TV  (:30)




ANNCR:  Congressman Steve King looks like a nice young man.

But on April 15 he voted to end Medicare and its guaranteed health care benefits.

CG: Congressman Steve King looks like a nice young man…

Wall Street Journal “…plan would essentially end Medicare.”

Source: WSJ 4/4/11, Roll Call vote 277, 4/15/11

[GOP budget] plan would essentially end Medicare, which now pays most of the health-care bills for 48 million elderly and disabled Americans, as a program that directly pays those bills …The proposal would also convert Medicaid, the health program for the poor, into a series of block grants to give states more flexibility.” [emphasis added, Wall Street Journal, 4/4/11]


The House voted to pass the Republican budget 235-193. [HConRes 34, Vote #277, 4/15/11]



ANNCR:  Instead, he wants seniors to get coverage from private insurance companies.

CG: The Economist

“ends the guarantee… American seniors will have health insurance.”

Source: The Economist, April 5, 20011



“Mr Ryan's plan ends the guarantee that all American seniors will have health insurance…. Mr Ryan's plan promises that once you reach 65, you will receive a voucher for an amount that he thinks ought to be enough for individuals to purchase a private health-insurance plan…If that voucher isn't worth enough for some particular senior to buy insurance, and that particular senior isn't wealthy enough to top off the coverage, or is a bit forgetful and neglects to purchase insurance, there's no guarantee that that person will be insured. It's up to you; you carry the risk.” [The Economist, 4/5/11]


Insurance Companies Stand to Have An Influx of New Customers. Under the Republican budget, when middle-aged Americans hit 65, they would then “choose from an array of private insurance plans when they reach 65 and become eligible, and the government would pay about the first $15,000 in premiums.” This would be a huge boon to health insurance companies. [Wall Street Journal, 4/4/11]


Fred Barnes, Weekly Standard: It’s Voucher Time

“Most Republicans in Congress favor Medicare vouchers and say so privately.” [4/4/11]


Why are Republicans so eager to give business to private companies? Since last year, Republicans have collected more than $25 million from the health insurance industry. [Washington Post, 2/6/11]


ANNCR:  Under King’s plan, seniors’ costs will go up over $6,000.

CG: Congressional Budget Office


Seniors’ costs will go up over $6,000


Source: Congressional Budget Office data


“In 2022, the first year the voucher would apply, CBO estimates that total health care expenditures for a typical 65-year-old would be almost 40 percent higher with private coverage under the Ryan plan than they would be with a continuation of traditional Medicare. (See graph.) CBO also finds that this beneficiary’s annual out-of-pocket costs would more than double — from $6,150 to $12,500.” [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 4/7/11]


ANNCR:  King wants to use that money to give millionaires a $200,000 tax break.

CG: Congressional Budget Office


“Elderly people would pay more [than under] the current Medicare system.”


Source: CBO Analysis, 4/5/11


President Obama: “They want to give people like me a $200,000 tax cut that's paid for by asking 33 seniors to each pay $6,000 more in health costs?” [George Washington University, 4//13/11]


The Republican budget keeps in place the Bush tax cuts for millionaires, as seniors would be forced to pay more out-of-pocket costs for their health care. “After extending the Bush tax cuts, he would cut the top rate for individuals and corporations from 35 percent to 25 percent. Then Ryan slashes Medicaid, Pell Grants, food stamps, and low-income housing. These programs to help the poor, which constitute approximately 21 percent of the federal budget, absorb two thirds of Ryan’s cuts.” [Jonathan Chait,, 4/10/11]


“Under the proposal, most elderly people would pay more for their health care than they would pay under the current Medicare system.” [CBO, 4/5/11]


ANNCR:  Ending Medicare so millionaires can get another tax break? REALLY? Call Congressman King and ask: What were you thinking?

CG: END MEDICARE to give millionaires ANOTHER TAX BREAK?


Paid for by Americans United for Change.