“Mindless.” “Unsustainable.” “Stifling.”

May 24, 2011

And That’s Just What the Democrats Are Saying About Their Own Plan to Cut Medicare


Speaking this week to Capitol Hill reporters, Democrat Whip Steny Hoyer confirmed earlier signals from Democrat Leader Nancy Pelosi that their caucus supports putting cuts to Medicare on the table in negotiations to reduce federal spending:


HOYER PUTS MEDICARE CUTS “ON THE TABLE”: “At his weekly Capitol briefing with reporters Tuesday, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) confirmed what aides in both parties have been telling reporters: Cuts to Medicare will be on the table in deficit and debt limit negotiations, led by Vice President Joe Biden.


“After arguing that Democrats made significant headway toward extending Medicare’s solvency with the health care law, Hoyer said, ‘Do I believe that there are other things we can do related to Medicare? The answer is I do. I’m not going to get into articulating each one, but my expectation is they will be under discussion by the Biden group.’” (Brian Beutler, “Will Dems Give Up Their Political Advantage On Medicare in Debt Limit Fight?”, Talking Points Memo, 5/24/2011)


PELOSI: MEDICARE CUTS AND SOCIAL SECURITY CUTS “ON THE TABLE”:“House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Monday agreed that everything should be put on the table in an effort to reduce the deficit, including entitlements like Medicare and Social Security. ‘Yes,’ she said in a CNBC interview in New York, when asked whether entitlements should be a part of the deficit solution. I think Medicare is on the table. I think Social Security is probably on its own table, because we have to have it be solvent, it has to be strong, and we have to deal with it in its own mechanism, in my view.” (Pete Kasperowicz, “Pelosi: Everything Should Be On The Table To Reduce Federal Deficit,” The Hill, 5/16/2011)


Even former President Bill Clinton chimed in Wednesday afternoon, warning Democrats to keep Medicare on the table, even if it means they have to dial back their demagoguery:


“But, he added, “I am afraid that the Democrats will draw the conclusion … that we shouldn’t do anything. I completely disagree with that.


‘The Democrats may have to give up some short-term political gain by whipping up fear, if it’s a reasonable Social Security proposal, if it’s a reasonable Medicare proposal. You cannot have healthcare devour the economy,’ he said.” (Erik Wasson, “Bill Clinton to Dems: “Don’t Avoid Medicare Reforms After NY Win,” The Hill, 5/25/2011)


Perhaps what Clinton had in mind was something like President Obama’s Medicare framework. Obama added another disturbing layer to the Democrat Medicare plan by empowering a board of unelected bureaucrats to make arbitrary cuts to Medicare. Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA), a member of the leadership of the House Democrats’ campaign arm, slammed her own party’s plan that gives unelected bureaucrats the power to make healthcare decisions best left to a senior’s doctor:


REP. SCHWARTZ SAYS OBAMA’S MEDICARE BOARD WILL “CUT PAYMENTS” AND SHOULD BE REPEALED: “We all agree that Medicare costs must be contained and that the payment system is flawed and needs to be replaced.But simply cutting reimbursements is not the answer. IPAB brings unpredictability and uncertainty to providers and has the potential for stifling innovation and collaboration.


“The threat of reduced payments is the least imaginative option and most unlikely to result in the kind of heath care we know seniors and all Americans deserve.


“We have a choice: Reduce costs through improved delivery of care or simply leave it to this new board to cut payments.” (Rep. Allyson Schwartz, “Opposing View: Repeal Medicare Board,” USA Today, 5/23/2011)


Schwartz’s criticism of the Democrats’ plan to cut Medicare follows similar remarks from another Democrat earlier this year. Offensivebraying Democratquote machine Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA), a senior member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, explained that Obama’s board of bureaucrats is a “mindless-rate cutting machine that sets the program up for unsustainable cuts” and “will endanger the health of America’s seniors and people with disabilities”:


REP. STARK: IPAB IS A “MINDLESS-RATE CUTTING MACHINE THAT SETS THE PROGRAM UP FOR UNSUSTAINABLE CUTS”: “I oppose the inclusion the Independent Payment Advisory Commission, called IPAB.  Some of my colleagues support this Commission because it shields them from having to take tough votes when it comes to cutting Medicare provider payments. It’s my experience that Congress always does what is needed to protect and strengthen the Medicare program.  IPAB is a dangerous provision.   By statute, this Commission would be required to hold Medicare spending to an arbitrary and unrealistic growth rate.  It is a mindless-rate cutting machine that sets the program up for unsustainable cuts. That will endanger the health of America’s seniors and people with disabilities.  It is an unprecedented abrogation of  Congressional authority to an unelected, unaccountable body of so-called experts.  I intend to work tirelessly to mitigate the damage that will be caused by IPAB.” (“Statement of Congressman Pete Stark Supporting Health Care Reform,” Office of Rep. Pete Stark, 3/21/2011)