What Were U.S. Reps. Paul Ryan and Sean Duffy Thinking When They Voted to End Medicare?

 April 25th, 2011

New TV Ad Asks: What Were U.S. Reps. Paul Ryan and Sean Duffy Thinking When They Voted to End Medicare As We Know It While Giving Millionaires Another Tax Break?


Americans United for Change Hit the Airwaves in Milwaukee and Wausau to Raise Awareness About the Ryan-Duffy Plan to Replace Medicare with Ever-Shrinking Private Vouchers, Slash Medicaid Funds Leaving 205,987 Wisconsin Citizens Without Care to Pay for Trillions of Dollars in New Tax Giveaways for Big Corporations



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

Ryan version, airing in Milwaukee:

Duffy version, airing in Wausau:


Washington DC –  Many Republicans members of Congress, including U.S. Reps. Paul Ryan (R-WI-1) and Sean Duffy (R-WI-7), are already facing “backlash” from “angry” “tough crowds” back home in their districts for voting on April 15 in support of the budget plan authored by Ryan 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.


As part of a continued, national effort to educate the public about the radical Republican plan to benefit their friends in the insurance industry while raising out-of-pocket costs on future seniors’ by over $6,000, progressive issue-advocacy group Americans United for Change is airing television ads this week in the Milwaukee and Wausau media markets asking Congressmen Ryan and Duffy what many seniors already have: “What were you thinking?”  ***See script below***   In March, Americans United posted this billboard in Wausau urging Congressman Duffy not to vote for the Ryan plan to privatize Medicare, but on April 15, he did just that.


Tom McMahon, Executive Director, Americans United for Change: “What are Congressmen Ryan and Duffy thinking, demanding that Wisconsin’s most vulnerable citizens make more sacrifices but millionaires and big corporations to make less?  If they have their way, there would be no more guaranteed Medicare benefits for Wisconsin’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 Wisconsin’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 Ryan-Duffy 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 205,987 Wisconsin Citizen 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 205,987 Wisconsin 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 Paul Ryan looks like a nice young man.

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

CG: Congressman Paul Ryan 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 Ryan’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:  Ryan 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 Ryan and ask: What were you thinking?

CG: END MEDICARE to give millionaires ANOTHER TAX BREAK?

REALLY? Call Paul Ryan (888) 909-7926 and ask: WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?

Paid for by Americans United for Change.