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Nobody could have predicted


Blast email from the RNC this morning

Reach Out And Touch Medicare
For The Record…It Was Obama Who Offered To Cut Hundreds Of Billions In Medicare During The Debt Debate


USA Today: “Cuts in Medicare and other entitlement programs are on the table.” (Susan Page and Fredreka Schouten, “Political Damage Even If A Debt Deal Is Done,” USA Today, 7/31/11)

Obama Agreed To Medicare Cuts In Debt Ceiling Deal. “The deal announced on Sunday by Congressional leaders and the White House would make across-the-board cuts in military spending, education, transportation and Medicare payments to health care providers if Congress does not enact further deficit-cutting legislation by the end of the year.” (Robert Pear, “Congress Must Trim Deficit To Avoid Broader Cuts,” The New York Times, 7/31/11)

• Obama Said “Adjustments” Must Be Made To Medicare. OBAMA: “Yes, that means making some adjustments to protect health care programs like Medicare so they’re there for future generations.”(President Barack Obama, Remarks On Budget Control Act, Washington, D.C., 8/2/11)


Obama Put “Major Changes” To Medicare On The Table During Debt Ceiling Negotiations. “To hit the $1.5 trillion in spending cuts, the congressional committee is likely to reconsider major changes to Medicare that the White House and congressional leaders put on the table during this summer’s debt-ceiling negotiations.” (Janet Adamy, “Debt Deal May Hit Medicare,” The Wall Street Journal, 8/2/11)

During The Debt Ceiling Negotiations, Obama Offered $650 Billion In Cuts To Entitlement Programs Like Medicare, Medicaid, And Social Security. OBAMA: “We then offered an additional $650 billion in cuts to entitlement programs — Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security. We believed that it was possible to shape those in a way that preserved the integrity of the system, made them available for the next generation, and did not affect current beneficiaries in an adverse way.” (President Barack Obama, Remarks On Deficit Negotiations, Washington, D.C., 7/22/11)

• Obama Said He Was Willing “To Sign A Tough Package” That Included Cuts To Medicare, Medicaid, And Social Security.” OBAMA: “So here’s where we stand. We have a Democratic President and administration that is prepared to sign a tough package that includes both spending cuts, modifications to Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare that would strengthen those systems and allow them to move forward, and would include a revenue component.” (President Barack Obama, Remarks On The Status Of Efforts To Find A Balanced Approach To Deficit Reduction, Washington, D.C., 7/19/11)

Obama Said He Was Open To Increasing The Age Of Eligibility For Medicare. OBAMA: “I’ve said that means testing on Medicare, meaning people like myself, if — I’m going to be turning 50 in a week. So I’m starting to think a little bit more about Medicare eligibility. (Laughter.) Yes, I’m going to get my AARP card soon — and the discounts.” (President Barack Obama, Remarks At Press Conference, Washington, D.C, 7/15/11)

• Obama Offered To Increase Medicare Eligibility Of Age, Adjust Premiums For Services Covered By Part B And D, Reform Deductibles, And Limit Certain Supplemental Insurance Coverage. “As for Medicare I am told the two sides were actually ‘very close.’ Obama had offered, according to a knowledgeable source, to increase the Medicare eligibility age, adjust premiums collected for services and benefits currently covered by Part B and Part D, reform and streamline deductibles and co-insurance for covered services and limit certain types of supplemental insurance coverage. All of this sounds very similar to a plan introduced by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). If this is correct, the Democrats will have a mighty hard time reviving the Mediscare gambit.”(Jennifer Rubin, “How The White House Killed The Deal,” The Washington Post’s Right Turn, 7/22/11)

Obama Said He Was Open To Means Testing Medicare. ABC NEWS’ JAKE TAPPER: “In the interest of transparency, leadership and offering – also showing the American people that you have been negotiating in good faith, can you tell us one structural reform that you are willing to make to one of these entitlement programs that would have a major impact on the deficit? Would you be willing to raise the retirement age? Would you be willing to means test Social Security or Medicare?” OBAMA: “We’ve said that we are willing to look at all those approaches. I’ve laid out some criteria in terms of what would be acceptable. So for example, I’ve said very clearly that we should make sure that current beneficiaries, as much as possible, are not affected, but we should look at what can we do in the out years so that, over time, some of these programs are more sustainable. I’ve said that means testing on Medicare, meaning people like myself, if — you know, I’m going to be turning 50 in a week, so…” (President Barack Obama, Remarks At Press Conference, Washington, D.C., 7/15/11)

Obama Admitted That The Democrats’ Do-Nothing Plan On Medicare Will Result In Medicare’s Bankruptcy. OBAMA: “But look, it’s also going to take some work on our side in order to get this thing done. I mean, the vast majority of Democrats on Capitol Hill would prefer not to have to do anything on entitlements. Would prefer, frankly, not to have to do anything on some of these debt and deficit problems. And I’m sympathetic to their concerns, because they’re looking after folks that are already hurting and are already vulnerable. And there are a lot of families out there and seniors who are dependent on some of these programs. What I’ve tried to explain to them is, number one, if you look at the numbers, Medicare in particular will run out of money, and we will not be able to sustain that program no matter how much taxes go up. I mean, it’s not an option for us to just sit by and do nothing. And if you’re a progressive who cares about the integrity of Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid, and believes that it is part of what makes our country great, that we look after our seniors and look after the most vulnerable, then we have an obligation to make sure that we make those changes that are required to make it sustainable over the long term.” (President Barack Obama, Remarks At Press Conference, Washington, D.C., 7/11/11)

• Click To View Obama Admit That Medicare Will Go Bankrupt
White House Senior Advisor David Plouffe Said Cuts In Medicare Are Necessary. PLOUFFE:“We’re going to do historic amounts of domestic spending cuts, entitlement reforms in areas of Medicare, and it’s been reported – the president is willing to look at things like raising the retirement age in Medicare, additional savings in Medicare, even willing to look at some adjustments in Social Security down the line. So we’ve been very clear – and I think the American people are clear about the approach they want – which is a balanced approach.” (CBS, “Evening News,” 7/27/11)
Obama White House: Our Position On Medicare Is The GOP’s Position

Obama And Republicans “Were Not Apart At All On Medicare.” “And the two sides were not apart at all on Medicare, the other health entitlement that has been a part of the discussions.” (Bob Cusack and Sam Youngman, “White House: Before Boehner Walked, Debt Deal Was Close At Hand,” The Hill, 7/22/11)

• Obama And Republicans’ Differences On Medicaid Were “Miniscule.” “On Medicaid, the differences were minuscule, an administration source said.”(Bob Cusack and Sam Youngman, “White House: Before Boehner Walked, Debt Deal Was Close At Hand,” The Hill, 7/22/11)

White House Official Claimed That Obama And The Republicans Were “Identical” On Medicare, Agreeing On “Eligibility, Cost-Sharing, Premiums, And Other Facets Of The Program.” “‘On Medicare, we were identical,’ the official claimed, saying the president had agreed with Republicans on eligibility, cost-sharing, premiums and other facets of the program.” (Bob Cusack and Sam Youngman, “White House: Before Boehner Walked, Debt Deal Was Close At Hand,” The Hill, 7/22/11)

• White House Official Confirmed “Every Other Major Issue Was Basically Agreed To, Including Raising Medicare Eligibility Age. “Every other major issue was basically agreed to, including raising the eligibility age of Medicare from 65 to 67 years old ‘over a long period of time,’ the administration official added.”(Bob Cusack and Sam Youngman, “White House: Before Boehner Walked, Debt Deal Was Close At Hand,” The Hill, 7/22/11)

“Other General Areas Of Agreement Included Extending The Payroll Tax, Extending Unemployment Benefits And Altering The Consumer Price Index On Social Security.” (Bob Cusack and Sam Youngman, “White House: Before Boehner Walked, Debt Deal Was Close At Hand,” The Hill, 7/22/11)

“Some Of The Figures Being Discussed Would Cut $150 Billion In Healthcare Provider Payments, Raise $150 Billion In Premiums And $125 Billion In Medicaid Reductions.” (Bob Cusack and Sam Youngman, “White House: Before Boehner Walked, Debt Deal Was Close At Hand,” The Hill, 7/22/11)


Democrats Are Nervous About Losing Their Political Advantage On Medicare As A Result Of Obama’s Proposed Cuts During The Debt Ceiling Debate. “That’s why Democrats are so nervous about what might happen to Medicare as a result of the debt ceiling crisis. In their eyes, the Ryan plan had completely turned the tables for 2012. It was going to be about Ryancare, not Obamacare.” (David Nather, “Does Deal Muddy Medicare Waters?” Politico, 7/31/11)

• Democrat Operatives Worried That They Have Lost Their Political Advantage On Medicare. “But now that Obama has put some big Medicare changes on the table as he tried to negotiate with Republicans — such as raising the eligibility age, increasing premiums and changing deductibles and co-payments — some Democratic operatives are worried that the tables will become unturned.”(David Nather, “Does Deal Muddy Medicare Waters?” Politico, 7/31/11)

• Democratic Pollster Anna Greenberg: “I definitely think it muddies the waters. … I do think that no matter what happens, things have gotten murkier.”(David Nather, “Does Deal Muddy Medicare Waters?” Politico, 7/31/11)

Top Senate Democrats Oppose Making Any Cuts To Medicare Because It Robs Democrats Opportunity To Demagogue Republicans On The Issue. “Top Democrats in charge of keeping the Senate in Dem hands and maintaining the political health of the party — DSCC chair Patty Murray and messaging chief Chuck Schumer — have privately expressed frustration that deep Medicare cuts risk squandering the major political advantage Democrats have built up on the issue, people familiar with internal discussions say.” (Greg Sargent, “Top Senate Dems Privately Warn: Deep Medicare Cuts Will Squander Our Big Advantage On Issue,” The Washington Post’s The Plum Line, 7/11/11)

• Democrats Would Rather Keep Their Political Advantage To Demagogue On Medicare Than Actually Enact Any Meaningful Reforms. “‘We shouldn’t be giving away our advantage on Medicare,’ said a source familiar with Murray’s thinking, in characterizing her objections in private meetings. ‘We should be very careful about giving away the biggest advantage we’ve had as Democrats in some time.’”(Greg Sargent, “Top Senate Dems Privately Warn: Deep Medicare Cuts Will Squander Our Big Advantage On Issue,” The Washington Post’s The Plum Line, 7/11/11)

Democrats Frustrated With Potential Cuts To Medicare Because “Protecting Medicare And Social Security Was A Defining Democratic Value, And That Agreeing To Cuts Would Be A Gift To Republicans If Not Political Suicide.” “During the caucus meeting, the attendee emailed, ‘there was great frustration that the Obama administration was discussing cutting Medicare and Social Security (there was a little less emphasis on Medicaid). The general sense was that protecting Medicare and Social Security was a defining Democratic value, and that agreeing to cuts would be a gift to Republicans if not political suicide.’” (Sam Stein, “DCCC Chair Steve Israel Relays Fears Over Candidate Recruitment If Dems Buckle On Medicare,”The Huffington Post, 7/8/11)

Hopefully voters will understand that it was all just a clever ruse.

Also I have to admit that in a morbid way I almost admire the utter shamelessness of the contemporary GOP.

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  • Kurzleg

    Well, they play to win, don’t they?

    I would like to think that this sort of thing has a short shelf life and that voters slowly become immune to the GOP’s transparent BS. It’s the only way I can maintain any hopefulness at all.

    • soullite

      If it were truly BS, maybe. But it isn’t, and they’ll be able to dredge up a hundred or so quotes from various Dems to support their contentions.

      But hey, we need those blue dogs to caucus with us and it’s not like having them spout right-wing talking points all day and all night causes any real harm, so it’s all good!

      • Captain Splendid

        When I grow up, I want to be a Democratic Party Whip. Sounds like the easiest job in the world.

    • Tom Allen

      Yes, they play to win. That may be why they win so often.

      Also, this particular charge isn’t “transparent BS.” It’s true. It’s hypocritical, but it’s true, and we warned you this attack would be coming. Also true is that President Obama proposed cutting Social Security benefits during the debt ceiling negotiations. You may remember that because he did it on national TV.

      If you want to retain hopefulness, start supporting candidates who pledge not to cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. There are still a few left, though their numbers are dwindling.

      • “and we warned you this attack would be coming. ”

        No you didn’t. NOBODY could have known!

        • rea

          It was in the daily brief–“Republicans Determined to Strike in US”

      • Kurzleg

        By transparent BS I meant that the GOP is more likely to “cut” Medicare, or cut it deeper, than the Dems. Sorry that wasn’t clear.

      • Bill Murray

        but the President knew the GOP would not accept these changes because, so they shouldn’t really count against him.

        Joe from Lowell is off today

    • timb

      Weird….if you read conservative blogs, you discover Democrats are wiley adversaries, invested only in Real politik, who always win with hard-nosed politics.

      If you read left wing blogs, it’s just the opposite.

      • asdfsdf

        When our side wins, we go “meh, should have been that way all along.” When their side wins, the apocalypse is coming into view and our incompetent politicians have failed us once more.

        • wengler

          You lost me at “when our side wins”.

          • Walt

            i laughed at that, but only because the tears will no longer come.

  • Ben

    You think an email demonstrates the utter shamelessness of the contemporary GOP?

    Then what do you think about the plan to revive those astroturfed town hall meetings to promote Paul Ryan’s dismantling of Medicare as the savior of the program?

    • Kurzleg

      Always easier to be the opposition when it comes to things like the town halls.

  • Kurzleg

    Oh, and this e-mail blast is interesting in that it’s an implicit recognition of Medicare’s popularity. You’d think that popularity is something that an opposing party might somehow leverage to electoral advantage.

    • soullite

      IT is. You’re looking at the opposition doing just that right now.

      • timb

        Except, and I know you missed this because you direct so much fire at actual liberals and progressives, that EVERY House Republican voted for a bill to dismantle Medicare.

        At most, President Obama offered to raise the eligibility age, plus some provider cuts.

        There is a huge difference between the two and, as NY 26 pointed out, it resonates with old white independents

    • Njorl

      Republicans want to divorce the word “Medicare” from the program. They want to sell the idea of Ryan’s fully funded, stable “Medicare” compared to the Democratic Medicare program which must be subject to shameful cuts to survive.

      That way, Democrats want to cut Medicare and Republicans don’t.

      Nevermind that the Republican plan isn’t even Medicare at all.

      • Holden Pattern

        But it will have a “Medicare” label, so it’s Medicare. The power of naming!

  • Also I have to admit that in a morbid way I almost admire the utter shamelessness of the contemporary GOP.

    How can you ignore it when your opponent gives you exactly the message you’re looking for? Were they not shameless to begin with it’s pretty tempting to lose all shame when it comes with gift-wrap.

  • Incontinentia Buttocks

    The Democrats, led by Obama, really did take one of the few, politically powerful issues that they had for 2012–preserving Social Security and Medicare–and simply tossed it away.

    It’s an interesting question which is sadder: the terrible politics of this decision or the terrible policy that it represents.

    That massive Democratic electoral losses next year will represent a sort of karmic justice is cold comfort in light of the fact that we will be governed even worse once the GOP is in charge.

    • jeer9

      It could be worse. You might posit intention behind the terrible policy.

    • Ed

      The Democrats, led by Obama, really did take one of the few, politically powerful issues that they had for 2012–preserving Social Security and Medicare–and simply tossed it away.

      News reports indicated that Congressional Democrats were stunned to learn how far Obama had gone to meet Boehner for precisely that reason, especially as they had the GOP on the defensive over Medicare after the Ryan plan. I’m sure Obama will come up with some sort of response but it’ll be weak tea, I fear.

      • Incontinentia Buttocks

        Congressional Democrats may have been stunned, but the Democratic leadership along with 90 Members of the House voted for the deal.

        This is on the party, not just the President.

        • Ed

          This is on the party, not just the President.

          Certainly a lot of the stuff that has happened cosntitutes a collective Democratic failure as well as an individual one, but my point was that heading in this direction wasn’t the party’s idea and it apparently caused a good deal of distrust between Congress and the White House. By the time of the actual vote it was all over, IMO.

    • Joe

      “Preserving” means keeping it exactly the same?

      If not, how exactly did they “simply toss it away,” particularly since the deal actually specifically limited what you can do just to such programs?

      One side wants to rob me of $1000, the other helps them some or maybe asks for a fraction of that sum. One side is not the same as the other. One side did not simply “toss out” the ability to sell me on that fact.

      • Incontinentia Buttocks

        What they tossed away was a clear political advantage.

        No, robbing someone of $300 is not the same as robbing them of $1000.

        But it makes for a lot less effective political slogan than being able to say: they’re robbing you; we’re protecting your money.

        • cer

          The GOP has been pretty firm on the talking point “no new taxes.” The Dems should have been equally clear–no cuts to Medicare or Social Security. Period. Instead they said that maybe they’d be willing to compromise which allowed the GOP to maintain their popular talking point and then co-opt the Democrat’s talking point by saying that the Democrats want to cut these programs. It was really dumb politics.

          • Joe

            Thing is the tax thing is b.s. New taxes of some sort tend to pass somehow, if only shifting it to the states. I don’t want the Dem to parrot their b.s. tactics. As if some 1% “cut” is horrible given some alternative that hurts much more net.

            • Jesus Christ. How many Joes are there who demand the losing hand be played?

              • DrDick

                All of them?

              • Malaclypse

                There is historical precedent for Joes who believe any story, no matter how unbelievable.

        • Joe

          You are watering down what you originally said. Now it’s some weakening of their advantage. Doesn’t sound like tossing it out the window. If one side does 30% of the other, that’s a pretty clear difference.

          And, the argument is that the Republicans control the House. There is going to SOMETHING cut. One side wants to cut it much less and supports the overall system. In fact, they want to ADD some health benefits. Seems not TOO hard to sell how one side protects you more.

          • Shit sandwich or lovely BLT with shit garnish? Which one would you love to eat if you didn’t have to eat it at all and didn’t have to express any preference for EVER?

            • jeer9

              Thank you, Substance.

        • Ed

          But it makes for a lot less effective political slogan than being able to say: they’re robbing you; we’re protecting your money.


  • Is it too soon to say it: Who could have predicted?

  • Oh hell I didn’t even look at the title of the post.

    • dangermouse

      Ha ha ha ha ha, made my afternoon.

  • Quaker in a Basement

    Amazing! This blast comes at the very same time Eric Cantor is saying we can’t afford to keep the Medicare promise for younger workers?

    The Orwell estate should sue for royalties.

    • timb

      Nah, he was a Socialist and Republicans don’t think Socialists are legitimate. they will just ignore the summonses

    • Incontinentia Buttocks

      Certainly, but two months ago the message was: We’ll preserve Medicare; the Republicans will cut it.

      Now the message is: the Republicans are hypocrites.

      This is a much less strong message

      The elder folks here will remember how effective it was in 1984 when Mondale argued that “Mr. Reagan will raise taxes, and so will I. He won’t tell you. I just did.”

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  • You understand the difference between provider cuts and benefit cuts, I hope? Benefit cuts were never on the table. Provider cuts were. And Medicare reimbursement rates, which is the percentage that is paid to doctors and hospitals, have been cut many times before. What usually happens though is that the Republicans have an interest in keeping those rates up, because a lot of doctors are Republicans. And that is the reason that if the super-committee fails to reach agreement, there will be automatic cuts to Medicare providers. But there will be no cuts in benefits. That is supposed to pressure Republicans to come to an agreement.

    • You understand the difference between provider cuts and benefit cuts, I hope?

      No, nobody does because nobody has ever mentioned this before.

      • Hogan

        Cwertainly there has never been a long and detailed discussion of it here.

        • Excuse me, this was my first visit to this website, so I’m sorry I am not familiar with everything that has been written here on that subject. But I was really mainly talking about the difference from a political standpoint, not so much about whether there is no practical difference for some people, as Linda’s comment below indicates. I think the idea is that Republicans on the super-committee are going to be more leery of allowing provider cuts to happen than they would be of allowing benefit cuts to happen.

          And I think there is another point to be made, and maybe the post was trying to make that point, which is that it is unfair to cite concessions that one side or the other might have been willing to make in the context of a global deal, to indicate what their position would be on any particular issue. At most the Republicans can say that maybe the Democrats would have been willing to make some changes to Medicare, but only if the Republicans had been willing to agree to some revenue increases. Since the Republicans would not agree to that, then whatever the Democrats might have been willing to do in some hypothetical situation is completely irrelevant. I guess that means I agree with the thrust of the original post, which is that we can’t very well expect the opposition party to play fair.

          By the way, is the sarcasm necessary?

    • Linda R

      You understand the difference between provider cuts and benefit cuts, I hope?

      …rather like the difference between making abortions extemely difficult to get versus making them illegal.

      • Linda R

        IOW, there is a difference. On a practical level, it’s not a big one… unless one is lucky enough to live somewhere where availability continues or has the private resources to travel.

  • Mojo

    An extortionist demands a million dollars or he’ll murder you and your family. He’s killed before so you believe he’s serious. You protest that you can’t pay that much money and eventually he settles for 100,000 dollars. Then he tells everybody that you offered the 100,000 as a gift. That doesn’t make you complicit, it makes him both an extortionist and a liar. That’s true even if he quotes some of your words out of context.

    To quote Paul, “Also I have to admit that in a morbid way I almost admire the utter shamelessness of the contemporary GOP.

    • Mojo

      Darn, too many attempted tricks with the delete tag left nested tags and broke my joke.

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  • wengler

    The real problem here is the GOP has a very strong brand awareness and the Dems don’t. Everyone knows what the Republicans do-they hack and slash taxes and talk big about how everyone is on their own. A fair portion of them also want to ‘SAVE THE BABIES!’

    What do Democrats stand for? Stopping the Republicans from going to far over the edge. Also, defending Social Security and Medicare from Republicans’ grips.

    You see why this deal was so mind-numbingly awful?

  • the gop is the cadillac of american conservative political parties. the democratic party is the generic great value brand of american conservative political party. the only people who don’t buy the name brand are either poor or cheap. the gop is proving to be well worth the money.

  • central texas

    If you don’t focus on the gall of the GOP then you would have to think deeply about the utter stupidity of the president and the rest of his party for allowing this to be a technically correct statement.

    Now we wait for the “third house of Congress” they have invented to maneuver the death by a thousand cuts to the ACA.

  • cleter

    That’s why during the health care debate, the Democrat’s starting point should have been a single payer program called Medicare Plus or Medicare One or somesuch–basically, Medicare for everyone. You can sell that in a sentence. Then, when the GOP voted against it, Democrats could run ads like “Congressman Jackhole voted against Medicare!” Oh well.

    Living in Florida, I imagine I’ll see “Obama hates Medicare” ads every twenty minutes by next summer. We’ll probably end up with a Romney/Rubio ticket, too.

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