By Julian Pecquet - 06/03/11 08:10 PM EDT
Republicans immediately shot back Friday against Senate Democrats' call to keep Medicare reforms out of debt-ceiling talks.
Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) took the stance during a conference call with reporters as the Senate prepares to return to work next week.
"Do I believe that Medicare should be off the table?" Harkin said during the call. "You bet I do, because it has nothing to do with the default crisis."
In a blast email, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's (R-Va.) office wrote that "Senate Dems Push Medicare Closer To Bankruptcy."
"Even President Obama has said that Medicare needs to be addressed, but Senate Democrats apparently would prefer to stick to their do-nothing ways," the missive says. "The House Republicans’ plan remains the only solution to save and strengthen Medicare for future generations."
Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah), the top Republican on the Senate Finance panel, said much the same thing.
"What is it the Washington Democrats don't understand?" Hatch said in a statement. "Medicare is the leading contributor to our nation's debt, and any attempt to confront this crisis in a meaningful way must include this broken entitlement program. If we are to ensure that Medicare isn't another broken Washington promise to our seniors then we have to discuss ways of fixing this program."