During his run for the U.S. Senate in 2006, then-Lt. Gov. Michael Steele argued that in order to control federal spending, he would advocate cuts in other government programs, including Social Security, Medicare, and defense. “Everything has to be on the table, my friend,” Steele said to NBC’s Tim Russert.
Now as Republican National Committee chair, Steele is singing a different tune. In an effort to scare seniors, the RNC released a “Seniors Health Care Bill of Rights” last week, calling on the government to “protect Medicare and not cut it in the name of reform.”
But it appears that Steele has put Medicare cuts back “on the table.” On ABCNews.com’s Top Line today, host David Chalian asked Steele about his view on Medicare cuts. After meandering through a long non-answer, Steele finally said that they may be necessary to reform Medicare:
STEELE: Well yeah. I mean you’ve got to look at the Medicare system as a whole and see that it’s in financial trouble. So how do you correct that? [...]
CHALIAN: Part of correcting it is to keep the idea of cuts on the table, correct?
STEELE: Part of correcting …
CHALIAN: Part of correcting the financial stability of Medicare.
STEELE: Oh yeah. You’ve got to deal with those inefficiencies, absolutely.
Emblematic of his tenure as RNC chair, Steele’s performance during this summer’s health care debate has lacked credibility. Despite his pledge to “protect Medicare” with a Senior’s Health Care Bill of Rights,” Steele was out attacking Medicare, calling it “a very good example of what we should not have.”
And despite Steele’s claim that the GOP is not trying to “scare” people on health care reform, an RNC survey mailed out recently asked recipients if they feared “that GOP voters might be discriminated against for medical treatment in a Democrat-imposed health care rationing system.”