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Rough Week for GOP At Home: Constituents Say No to Republican Plan to End Medicare As We Know It

Democrats will continue to speak out against Republican efforts to end Medicare as we know it in order to give tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans. The American people simply won’t tolerate a Republican budget and the GOP is hearing that message loud and clear from their constituents.

ABC News – Republican Lawmakers Face Angry, Confused Constituents on Medicare, Budget Cuts:

“What you’re doing with this Ryan budget is you’re taking Medicare and you’re changing it from a guaranteed health care system to one that’s a voucher system where you throw seniors … on the mercy of for-profit insurance companies,” railed one attendee at a town hall held by Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Penn.

In New Hampshire, Rep. Charlie Bass heard similar complaints.

“This is just salt in the wound,” a constituent told the freshman Republican.

Ryan, who has emerged as the GOP’s leader on budget issues, himself hasn’t been immune. At one town hall meeting last Tuesday, the House Budget committee chairman was booed after getting into a brief confrontation with one attendee about income equality and the middle class.

McClatchy – Home for Easter, GOP faces backlash over budget plan:

Standing in a brightly lit bingo hall, GOP Rep. Charles Bass should have felt a long way from the pressure-cooker of budget politics in Washington.

But as he opened a town hall meeting in Hillsborough, N.H., last week, it was clear the pressure had followed him to American Legion Post No. 59.

What is his rationale for wanting to change Medicare to a voucher system, questioners demanded to know. If the idea is to cut the deficit, why does the Republican budget plan offer tax breaks for the wealthy?

The Hill – Left Hopes for Town-Hall Rage of Its Own:

One attendee at a Meehan meeting on Wednesday accused the congressman of voting to abolish Medicare with his vote on the Ryan budget bill, CNN reported.

“Did you not vote for Paul Ryan’s bill?” the attendee asked. “Well, that is to abolish Medicare and give people some money. It will not be the Medicare that we know.”

But Meehan shot back, saying “No ma’am, I did not vote to abolish Medicare. And that is factually untrue.”

Rep. Robert Dold (R-Ill.) cut a presentation on the federal deficit short at a town-hall meeting he held last week after audience members began firing questions at him about the Ryan budget and its changes to entitlement programs, including Medicare and Social Security, according to the The Daily Herald, a Chicago-area newspaper.

Senior citizens in the audience expressed their discontent with turning Medicare into a voucher program, calling the change a “shell game” that would bog senior citizens down with uncertainty in dealing with private healthcare companies.

Los Angeles Times – House Republicans face backlash at home over budget plan:

…as [Rep. Charles Bass] opened a town hall meeting here last week, it was clear the pressure had followed him to American Legion Post No. 59.

What is his rationale for wanting to change Medicare to a voucher system, questioners demanded to know. How is this going to lower premiums? If the idea is to cut the deficit, why does the Republican budget plan offer tax breaks for the wealthy?…

Polls suggest the Medicare and taxes argument could be a difficult one for Republicans. Americans show little willingness to hand more Medicare services over to the private sector, and majorities endorse raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, as Obama advocates. The GOP plan would send tax rates in the other direction, reducing the rate for the highest-paid Americans from 35% to 25%.

That provision proved problematic for some GOP lawmakers meeting voters back home. At a town hall in Milton, Wis., opponents booed and heckled Ryan as he explained his rationale for lowering taxes for the wealthy.

The Washington Post – Republicans facing tough questions over Medicare overhaul in budget plan:

Anxiety is rising among some Republicans over the party’s embrace of a plan to overhaul Medicare, with GOP lawmakers already starting to face tough questions on the issue at town hall meetings back in their districts…

The GOP’s challenge was evident Friday to Rep. Charles F. Bass (R-N.H.), who fielded questions at a senior center in his district…

“The first thing [the seniors] asked me is whether or not I’m planning to vote to end Medicare completely,” said Bass, elected last year in a swing district that he had previously represented for 12 years…

At a town hall this week captured on video by a critic, Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.) argued with a woman who asked why he had voted to abolish Medicare…

Politico – Freshmen feel the heat back home:

…at an American Veterans outpost tucked deep in the Pocono Mountains this week, freshman Republican Rep. Lou Barletta took heat from every direction — from Democrats angry with the tax cuts in the GOP budget, to conservatives who thought he caved on the last continuing resolution vote, to a precocious 16-year-old critical of the lawmaker’s environmental record.

First Barletta was told “not to be steadfast in Paul Ryan’s Republican plan,” to “bend a little, work and come together to pass something that’s agreeable to everybody.”…

And hardly anyone in his senior-heavy district wants to see Congress touch their Medicare benefits…

The town halls in Pennsylvania showed deep concern about the national debt but extreme wariness of cuts to entitlements, and constituents are starting to vent their frustrations with the new House GOP majority, bolstered by 87 freshmen, all but one of whom voted for Ryan’s budget plan…

At Barletta’s town hall, there were indications that the spending votes could become the defining debate for his first term in Congress. Early in the meeting, a man critical of the tax cuts in Ryan’s plan had to be escorted from the smokey, faded banquet hall by police. A woman interrupted the congressman’s presentation several times to question or criticize him. One retired veteran repeatedly demanded to know why Barletta had voted to cut veteran’s benefits, despite his repeated insistence that he hadn’t taken any such vote.

Democrats stand united against the Republican attack on Medicare, and it will continue to be clear just who in Congress truly supports America’s seniors – from National Journal:

One of the challenges Democrats face is how to keep anger over GOP plans to reshape Medicare and Medicaid going until the 2012 elections. Democratic leaders see it as a key campaign issue—one that favors the hobbled party. On Tuesday, the House’s top Democrat, Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., will speak to seniors at the Aging in America conference in San Francisco. On topic: “[T]he disastrous impact the Republican budget, which ends Medicare as we know it, will have on our nation’s seniors,” according to a press release.

Republicans should join the American people and Democrats in finding a bipartisan way to create jobs, while reducing the deficit responsibly and strengthening the middle class.

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