By Walter Alarkon - 09/05/09 06:35 PM EDT
A new Democratic National Committee television ad attacks Republicans for trying to end Medicare.
The ad, which starts running next week on cable news and on local television in House districts represented by top Republicans, points to the GOP substitute for the budget resolution, which proposed that workers under the age of 55 receive subsidies to help them get the same kind of benefits when they retire under private insurance plans that seniors now get under Medicare. The GOP budget received the support of most Republicans when it came up for a vote in April.
(Watch the ad here)
The ad is the Democrats' latest attempt to push back against Republican criticism of Democratic attempts to overhaul the healthcare system. Top House Democrats have called for a public insurance plan to compete with private insurers and force them to bring down costs for consumers. The Democrats are seeking to blunt criticism from Republicans and conservative activists that the Democratic proposal would lead to more wasteful government by noting that Medicare is a government-run plan.
"America's seniors have relied on Medicare for over forty years -- and Democrats are working to strengthen Medicare," the ad says.
In response to the DNC ad, a House GOP aide defended the Republican attempt to change Medicare and noted that the program in its current form is going bankrupt. Medicare trustees have estimated that the program has $38 trillion in long-term liabilities that aren't funded.
"The Republican budget would begin critical reforms to get the program onto a fiscally sustainable path so it can be around for this--and future--generations," the aide said. "The Democrats' budget simply allows it to continue on its path to bankruptcy."
The parties have been tussling over which one is more supportive of Medicare. The Republican National Committee this week began airing its own ad in which GOP Chairman Michael Steele calls on lawmakers to oppose reform bills that don't include Medicare cuts and rationing of care.
"Let’s agree in both parties that Congress should only consider health reform proposals that protect senior citizens," Steele says in the spot.
House Democrats have said that their proposals wouldn't lead to any more rationing and that any savings found in Medicare wouldn't change seniors' healthcare access or quality.
The DNC commercial is running in the districts of Republican Reps. Boehner, Ryan, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.), Lee Terry (Neb.), Patrick Tiberi (Ohio), Mary Bono Mack (Calif.), Don Young (Alaska), Michele Bachmann (Minn.), Jean Schmidt (Ohio), and Erik Paulsen (Minn.). Several of the GOP members, including Terry, Bachmann and Schmidt, are perennial targets of Democrats in House elections.