What editorial writers are saying about the politics of Medicare

After a Democrat won a House seat in a Republican New York district, many saw the vote as opposition to GOP Medicare reform proposals.

Posted June 6, 2011.

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Editorial writers say the election is a measure of the political fallout of a plan, passed in the Republican-led House but rejected in the Democratic-led Senate, by Paul Ryan (R, Wis.) that would create a privatized voucher system for Medicare.

On Medicare, GOP gets a taste of its own medicine

One political party overwhelmingly favors a dramatic change to how health care is delivered in this country. The other denounces it, and polls show the public opposes it, too. Yet proponents stick to their guns -- and voters punish them for it. A description of the 2010 mid-term elections and the effect of President Obama's health care reform initiative on Democrats in Congress? No, that's what is happening right now with the Republicans and proposed changes to Medicare. Irony, thy name is Washington. Make no mistake, [the May 24] shocking Democratic victory in upstate New York's 26th district where GOP voters hold a big majority was driven by Rep. Paul Ryan's plan to privatize Medicare and not by the presence of a third-party candidate. The Baltimore Sun, May 26

Medicare pushback

The extreme Republican proposal to turn Medicare into a private voucher program is attracting broad public resistance, in Ohio and across the country. GOP lawmakers can continue to peddle a prescription that most Americans reject. Or they can work with the Obama administration and congressional Democrats on real solutions to strengthen the solvency of the government health insurance plan that serves 47.5 million elderly and disabled citizens. ... On [May 24], a Democrat won a special election in a heavily Republican congressional district in New York. She based her successful campaign largely on her opposition to the GOP proposal, which she argued would "decimate" Medicare. Her victory could prove as significant as the special-election upset win last year by Sen. Scott Brown (R., Mass.), who campaigned against ObamaCare. Other GOP candidates adopted that strategy successfully last November. The Toledo (Ohio) Blade, May 26

Dems can't just scare Granny; voters must face facts as well

The election [of Democrat Kathy Hochul] confirms a long-term trend: When presented with candidates who feign outrage over deficits but offer only false, piddling solutions such as cutting Planned Parenthood or NPR, voters are enthusiastically on board. When presented with candidates of either party who propose either tax increases or changes to entitlements -- both of which will be necessary to balance the budget -- voters run in the other direction. As long as the public refuses to acknowledge the need for real sacrifice, elected officials will, too. The Boston Globe, May 26

Now, the real work for Hochul

[Medicare and Social Security] are broken and, as [Republican candidate Jane] Corwin demonstrated again, Republicans don't seem able to do the fixing. By and large, they are not friends of these programs; and Americans, for the most part, don't trust them to act in the programs' behalf. That leaves it to Democrats; if they don't act, the programs will wither. Acting won't be easy. President Obama pledged to attack the problem of entitlements during his 2008 campaign, but he has been AWOL on the issue. ... It's hard to say how long [Kathy] Hochul will be around to fix Social Security and Medicare. It is a Republican district, after all, and even worse for Hochul, one that could be liquidated by redistricting before the 2012 elections. The Buffalo (N.Y.) News, May 26

Interpreting the Medicare message in New York election

Early polls had [Kathy] Hochul well behind GOP nominee Jane Corwin, a state assemblywoman. Then the Democrat began to hammer Corwin about the Medicare proposal advanced by House Budget Chair Paul Ryan. That doesn't mean Medicare is the wedge issue of 2012, or that other factors won't matter more other places. But some liberal groups spun Hochul's win as a message to Democrats not even to consider changes to Medicare or Social Security as part of a long-term budget fix. That's a profound mistake. The Plain Dealer (Cleveland), May 26

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