Dems push back on GOP 'scare tactics'

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) led a coordinated effort by Democratic leaders on Thursday to push back Republican “scare tactics” on health reform, saying the GOP has no credibility because it has continually tried to gut public health programs.

The top five Senate Democrats — Reid, Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois, Democratic Conference Vice Chairman Charles Schumer of New York, Conference Secretary Patty Murray of Washington and Policy Committee Chairman Byron Dorgan of North Dakota — said Republicans voted 59 times in the past decade against Medicare and are now “disingenuous” for claiming to protect it.

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Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele and other top Republicans have recently cut ads and spoken out against Democratic healthcare efforts by highlighting cuts they say would be necessary to programs like Medicare Advantage.

But Reid said, “Our opponents’ claims this time around are disingenuous at best and phony at worst. Disingenuous, because they have a long track record of standing in the way of giving America’s seniors what they need. Phony, because they completely and willfully misrepresent what the bills we are considering will actually do for our seniors … When it comes to Republicans attacks on Medicare, the messenger has no credibility and the message is nothing more than an excuse.”

The Democratic attack did nothing to slow Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who repeated the central assertion that is quickly taking center stage in the health reform debate.

“Seniors take a serious hit from this legislation — either through cuts in services that millions of them currently enjoy, or by being forced off the plans they have,” McConnell said. “All told, this bill calls for nearly $140 billion in cuts to Medicare Advantage; nearly $120 billion in Medicare cuts for hospitals that care for seniors; more than $40 billion in cuts to home health agencies; and nearly $8 billion in cuts to Hospice care.”