Let’s Be Frank: GOP’s New Medicare Message Strategy is Censorship

Unable to take the heat on their plan to end Medicare, House Republicans have resorted to blatantly censoring the facts about their irresponsible budget—but the GOP can’t stifle the truth from the American people.

Roll Call – House Democrats Cry Foul Over Rejected Mailings:

Democratic House Members are lashing out at Republican leadership over rejected mass mailings, saying their messages lambasting the GOP budget plan and its effect on Medicare are being censored…

Five Democrats wrote to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Tuesday asking him to intervene. They say Republicans on the House franking commission, which screens the content of mass mailings paid for with Congressional funds, have become more sensitive since the May 24 special election in New York…

The commission returned a flier to Rep. Gerry Connolly on May 29 over objections to language stating that the GOP budget would “end” Medicare. The commission asked the Virginia Democrat to rephrase the passage to say the plan could “change” or “could privatize portions” of the federal health insurance program for seniors and the disabled…

Similarly, the commission asked Rep. Ed Perlmutter to strike the words “eliminate” and “dismantle” in favor of the word “change” in a flier about the Medicare proposal. The commission also asked the Colorado Democrat to remove references to Ryan, replace “voucher” with “premium support system” and change “privatize” to “revise government program with support from private insurance companies.”

The New York Times – Democrats Complain About Republican Edits:

When Representative Gerald E. Connolly, Democrat of Virginia, tried to send a taxpayer-paid newsletter to his constituents this month, the Republican majority had a few edits first…

“This is like Soviet censorship. It’s intolerable,” Mr. Connolly said. “Unbelievable. I am stunned that the majority would engage in an exercise of this breathtaking censorship, and all because the Republicans are feeling some heat on their plan to kill Medicare.”

Mr. Connolly and other Democrats say that the Republican majority has suddenly begun trying to change their newsletters in the wake of the Democratic victory in a New York special election — a victory that some say was helped by Democratic messages about Republican plans for Medicare.

“They are changing their tune due to political fallout and bad poll results,” Mr. Connolly said.

Talking Points Memo – CENSORSHIP! Dems Cry Foul Over GOP Interference With Medicare Mailers:

A bitter, behind-the-scenes fight over the GOP’s Medicare phase-out plan has bubbled out into the open, and now Democrats are openly charging Republicans with censoring their communications with constituents…

The controversy arose in the wake of the special election in New York’s conservative 26th district, where Democrat Kathy Hochul defeated her GOP challenger, who supported the Republican Medicare plan. Before then, Democrats had fired off mail to constituents warning that the plan would “kill” or “end” Medicare, without objection.

Since then, several Democrats have seen their mailers delayed, with Republicans demanding strict revisions — both to identical language they had approved before and even to milder critiques…

The Washington Post – House Democrats: Republicans trying to ‘censor’ mailings critical of GOP Medicare plan:

Some House Democrats are accusing Republicans of trying to censor mailings to their constituents criticizing the GOP plan to overhaul Medicare…

Draft mailers saying that the Republican plan would “end Medicare” have been revised to read “change Medicare,” and in references to the potential effects of the plan on seniors, such as reopening the prescription drug doughnut hole, the word “would” has been changed to “could.”…

Democrats whose mail has been rejected argue that rather than misrepresenting the facts, they’re trying to clarify things for voters.

“I am entitled to explain to my voters why I voted no on the Ryan budget and … refer to it as that,” [Rep. Gerry] Connolly said. “There’s nothing partisan in that.”

National Journal – Democrats Charge House GOP With Censoring Member Mailings:

At least five House Democrats are accusing Republicans of censoring their taxpayer-funded mailings critical of the GOP plan to change Medicare—casting the effort as retaliation for the GOP’s defeat in a special election in New York.

“The rising lack of popularity of the House Republican plan for Medicare hardly justifies the use of the Franking Commission to obstruct legitimate communication between members and the Americans that we serve,” complain the five Democrats, in a letter sent on Tuesday to Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

The Hill – House Democrats say GOP censoring Medicare mailings:

House Democrats on Wednesday charged House Republicans with censoring outgoing Democratic mailings that criticize the Republican plan to change the Medicare program.

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) was one of three members who complained about this on Wednesday, calling it “blatant and transparent censorship.”

“I’m not allowed to refer to changing Medicare to a voucher system, even though Mr. Ryan himself referred to it as a voucher system. I must now call it a premium support system,” he said. “This censorship would make former Soviet censors blush.”

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