CNN reports this morning that freshman GOP Rep. Patrick Meehan (PA) faced a “tough crowd” back home after voting for Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget proposal that would effectively end Medicare by privatizing it and handing seniors over to the private health insurance industry.
The news network notes that his vote for the Ryan budget was a common topic at town halls he attended this week in his home district, with constituents upset that he supported a “reform” that would actually gut Medicare:
Meehan was asked about entitlement reform and Medicare at nearly every town hall he went to. Some of his constituents say they’re worried about proposed Republican reforms to the Medicare system.
“Reform usually means cutting benefits, if it’s cutting benefits, no, I do not want that,” says constituent Bette Popiel.
The Meehan Report, a blog started by an upset constituent, captured this exchange between Meehan and an exasperated constituent at a town hall on April 20. The constituent demanded, “If you voted to abolish Medicare, how would you explain that to people in their 50’s out of a job?!” Watch it:
Constituents shouldn’t just be upset with Meehan because he voted for a radical budget that would force seniors to pay the majority of their income just to be able to get health care, as a Congressional Budget Office analysis showed. They should also be outraged that he broke a specific pledge he made during a debate with his Democratic opponent Bryan Lentz during an event last fall.
During that debate, Lentz noted that the GOP was coalescing around Ryan’s plan to privatize Medicare, and that Meehan would likely support it as well. Meehan flatly said that he wouldn’t vote for Ryan’s “agenda”:
LENTZ: Read the plan of Paul Ryan, who is the star of the caucus Pat hopes to join, turning Medicare into a voucher program, privatizing Social Security. So he may not be willing to admit that that’s the agenda of the Republican Party of Washington, D.C. But it is in fact the agenda. […]
MEEHAN: That’s the agenda, I’m not voting for. That’s the first and most important thing.
Last week, the entire House Republican caucus, with the exception of four members, voted for Ryan’s plan to phase out Medicare. Meehan clearly broke his campaign promise to voters. In response to constituent and press questions on the reversal, Meehan’s staff is claiming that the Ryan plan “will not privatize Medicare or turn it into a ‘voucher’ system.” But that is simply not true, just as was Meehan’s original pledge to not support Ryan’s agenda.