ThinkProgress filed this report from the Freedom Forum in Manchester, NH.
With polls showing Americans strongly opposed to Medicare cuts, Republicans have been working hard to obfuscate proposals in Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget. The Ryan plan, which House Republicans voted for 235-4, phases out Medicare and replaces it with a system that gives citizens money to buy insurance in the private market.
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) is the latest Republican to use verbal gymnastics in an attempt to muddle the Ryan budget’s changes to Medicare. In an interview with ThinkProgress this past weekend, DeMint first declared – incorrectly – that most Americans would favor a plan that privatizes Medicare. He then went on to argue that the Republican budget is “not an end of Medicare, it’s a new beginning”:
KEYES: Do you think that a candidate will be able to win the South Carolina primary if they don’t endorse the Ryan plan?
DeMINT: Well, I think there are variations of the Ryan plan. I think folks are going to be looking at the Ryan plan and what candidates say about them. I’ve worked with Paul Ryan on these ideas for years when we were in the House together. The idea of allowing young people to actually look forward to keeping their health plan when they retire and let Medicare help pay for it, I think is something that most Americans would like. That’s not an end of Medicare, it’s a new beginning. We just have to learn how to sell these programs.
DeMint is not the only GOPer clouding the Republican budget proposals. During Congressman Ryan’s recent town halls that ThinkProgress attended, Ryan himself was noticeably sensitive when constituents referred to his plan as a voucher system, arguing each time that it’s not a “voucher,” it’s “premium support.” In addition, Republicans learned in 2005 during the ill-fated Social Security debate that Americans are wary of “privatizing” social safety net programs. As such, Ryan and others have gone to great lengths to describe the current Republican budget as proposing “personalized Medicare,” rather than “privatized Medicare.” Some GOPers have even argued that Ryan’s plan “saves Medicare” rather than phasing it out.
During the past two weeks, lawmakers went back to their districts to hear from constituents. Across the country, Republicans encountered a massive voter backlash on their plan to alter Medicare, regardless of whether GOPers describe it as “saving Medicare,” “personalizing Medicare,” or giving Medicare a “new beginning.”