Boehner says Medicare played 'small part' in special-election loss

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) defended the Republican plan to overhaul Medicare, but acknowledged it played a “small part” in costing the party a House seat in upstate New York.

“Special elections are just that. They’re special,” Boehner said Thursday in his first public comments since Democrat Kathy Hochul upset Republican Jane Corwin in the race for New York’s 26th congressional district seat, where Republicans had a strong advantage. The Speaker cited, as have many other Republicans, the impact of a self-funded independent candidate: Jack Davis, a former Democrat running on a Tea Party platform.

“I could be somewhat critical of how the campaign was run, but the fact is we didn’t win,” Boehner said at a press conference to unveil a GOP jobs plan. “The small part of the reason we didn’t win clearly had to do with Medicare.”

He then launched into a vociferous defense of the GOP plan, which Democrats have described as a voucher system for seniors.

“Fact: The only plan out there to preserve and protect Medicare for current and future retirees is the plan that we’ve put forth,” Boehner said. “Fact No. 2: The only people in Washington, D.C., who have voted to cut Medicare are the Democrats when they voted to cut $500 billion in Medicare during ObamaCare.”

“We have outlined a plan, frankly, that we believe in,” the Speaker added. “The fact is the Democrats have no plan, which is going to lead to bankruptcy and cuts to seniors benefits. It’s about time they were honest with the American people.”

Democrats have seized on the special-election victory to argue the GOP budget, including its Medicare proposal, will put the entire House in play in 2012.