ABC’s Z. Byron Wolf reports:
Rep. Paul Ryan and his Budget, which would change the face of Medicare, will be the cornerstone of Democrats election strategy in 2012, according to Rep. Steve Israel, the Democrat in charge of taking back the House in 2012, appearing on ABC’s Top Line today.
Israel distilled Democrats’ message into what a likely campaign ad would be.
“Well all we have to do is use the ad Republicans used against Democrats,” he said. “They ran these ads saying I'm going to come to Washington to protect Medicare and we're going to remind the American people they lied about us, all we have to do is tell the truth about them. And the truth is in today's vote to terminate the Medicare guaranteed benefit. All we have to do is tell the truth and we'll win the House back.”
Republicans will pass Ryan’s sweeping and controversial budget proposal this afternoon. It would cut corporate taxes, drastically alter Medicare for those under 55, and impose more than $5 trillion in cuts to government spending.
“Every budget is about a bottom line and the bottom line in the Ryan budget is that if you earn over a million dollars a year you get a $100,000 tax cut and if you're a senior on Medicare you lose your guaranteed Medicare benefit and your medical costs go up $12,000 dollars. So if you're a millionaire you win the lotto. If you're a senior, you lose your Medicare,” said Israel, D-NY.
“We're going to hold every single Republican accountable for choosing to protect the special interest and turning their back on America's senior citizens by terminating their Medicare benefit,” he said.
It was pointed out to Israel that Democrats fell prey to a similarly Medicare-centric strategy employed by Republicans in 2010. They argued to great effect that Democrats’ health reform law is paid for largely by money taken from Medicare reforms. So we asked Israel: Is it intellectually dishonest to complain, as Democrats do, that Republicans unfairly used Medicare cuts in the name of health reform against Democrats in 2010 and then turn around and use proposed Medicare reform in the name of deficit reduction against Republicans in 2012?
“If there's any hypocrisy at all in this, if there's any intellectual dishonesty at all in this it is those Republicans who came to Congress by complaining about Medicare cuts and then didn't just cut it, ended it. And we're going to hold them accountable for that hypocrisy,” said Israel.
The National Republican Congressional Committee, which is in charge of making sure Republicans keep the House, offers this reponse to Israel from spokesman Paul Lindsay:
“Putting Nancy Pelosi back in the Speaker’s chair may be a bold pipe dream for Steve Israel, but it is nothing short of a nightmare for American families who are still recovering from the job-crushing policies her party forced on them. By voting against a plan to save and strengthen Medicare for today’s seniors, House Democrats confirmed that between now and Election Day they will be defending an inexcusable proposal to watch the program suffer a painful death.”