Democrats vow to fight 'tooth and nail' against Medicare cuts

Democrats vow to fight 'tooth and nail' against Medicare cuts
© Greg Nash

Democratic leaders on Wednesday vowed to fight “tooth and nail” against any Republican push to change Medicare so that it relies more on private insurers.

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“I say to my Republican colleagues: Turn back because we will fight you on this tooth and nail. We will win. You will lose,” Sen. Chuck SchumerCharles SchumerDemocrats urge Trump to condemn Charlottesville violence Melania Trump on Charlottesville protests: 'No good comes from violence' It's time for McConnell to fight with Trump instead of against him MORE (N.Y.), the incoming Democratic leader said at a press conference.

He was joined by Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersThe media couldn't be more blatant in distorting Trump's words on Charlottesville Road to renewable energy is filled with potholes of ‘magic thinking’ Bernie Sanders: Trump’s Charlottesville comments ‘embarrassing’ MORE (I-Vt.), House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), as well as liberal groups that were delivering to Republican leaders a petition against Medicare cuts with over 1 million signatures.

Democrats have been sensing political advantage amid talk of Republicans overhauling Medicare.

Schumer promised “some heck of a hearing” for Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpAssange meets U.S. congressman, vows to prove Russia did not leak him documents A history lesson on the Confederacy for President Trump GOP senator: Trump hasn't 'changed much' since campaign MORE’s nominee to be Health and Human Services secretary.

Price is a proponent of Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanGOP chairman to discuss Charlottesville as domestic terrorism at hearing Trump’s isolation grows GOP lawmaker: Trump 'failing' in Charlottesville response MORE’s (R-Wis.) plan to give seniors a set amount of money to buy a private insurance plan or traditional Medicare. Democrats warn such a system would shift costs onto seniors and end the program’s open-ended guarantee of coverage.

While Schumer noted that during the campaign, Trump said he would not cut Medicare, Schumer said he thinks Trump will break his promise.

“That was then, this is now,” Schumer said of Trump. “[P]resident-elect Trump nominated one of the most avowed enemies of Medicare in the country to be secretary of HHS, and he's going to get some heck of a hearing.”

Sanders, likewise, pointed to Trump’s past statements against Medicare cuts and said Democrats would hold him accountable.

“You said you would not cut Social Security, you would not cut Medicare, you would not cut Medicaid,” Sanders said. “You know what, millions of us are going to demand that you keep your promise.”

It is unclear how hard Ryan will push on his Medicare plan, given hesitancy among some Senate Republicans and possibly from Trump.

But Ryan is defending his approach overall.

“We have to do things to fix this program so that we can guarantee that it’s there intact for current seniors, but also that there’s something there for us when we retire,” Ryan said last week.