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U.S. Rep. Wasserman Schultz, Senior Leaders and the Florida Democratic Party Respond to Republican P

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NEWS FROM THE FLORIDA DEMOCRATIC PARTY

For Immediate Release: Sept. 1, 2009

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U.S.
Rep. Wasserman Schultz, Senior Leaders and the Florida Democratic Party
Respond to Republican Party's "Seniors Bill of Lies"

Tallahassee,
FL - U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Alliance for Retired
Americans Executive Director Edward Coyle, AFSCME Director of Retiree
Programs Steve Regenstreif and the Florida Democratic Party today
responded to the lies and misinformation the GOP is spreading about
seniors and health insurance reform--including RNC's lies, which today
announced a misleading ad on their "Seniors Bill of Lies." 

Since
the health insurance reform debate began, the GOP has attempted to
spread lies and misinformation about how health insurance reform will
affect seniors.  But the truth is, President Obama's reforms will lower
costs, protect choice and provide more options.  Seniors in particular
will benefit from health insurance reform as it will eliminate waste,
fraud and abuse in Medicare, will end wasteful subsidies to the
insurance companies and close the Medicare Part D prescription drug
"donut hole."  For seniors age 50 to 64 who are not yet eligible for
Medicare, the reforms proposed by President Obama will ensure that
seniors who are between jobs or have a pre-existing condition cannot be
denied coverage by the insurance industry.

To
protect seniors and all Americans from sky-high costs and denial of
coverage, President Obama recently announced eight Health Insurance
Guarantees. 

Under
the President's Health Insurance Guarantees, everyone will benefit,
even people who currently have insurance, because any legislation he
signs will include these iron clad guarantees - guarantees which will
reverse years of unfair insurance company practices: 1) no
discrimination for pre-existing conditions, 2) no exorbitant
out-of-pocket expenses, deductibles, or co-pays, 3) no cost-sharing for
preventive care, 4) no dropping of coverage for the seriously ill, 5)
no gender discrimination, 6) no annual or lifetime caps on coverage, 7)
extended coverage for young adults, and 8) guaranteed insurance renewal.

Statements From Speakers On The Call

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL)

"The
Republican Party is continuing to mislead the American people,
especially our seniors, because they really have nothing else on health
insurance reform... their "Seniors Bill of Lies" is another step in
their never-ending quest to fan the flames of fear... The RNC's so
called "Seniors Bill of Rights" is nothing more than a scare tactic
built on a foundation of lies about the effort to reform health
insurance.  They're trying to put fear in seniors' hearts and scare
them into believing that they are somehow going to lose the benefits
they have now and nothing could be further from the truth... It's clear
that Republicans don't care about reform, they just care about
politics.  They're just trying to scare seniors and have admitted that
their effort is to 'break' the President on this issue and kill reform
for political gain...Here are the facts, President Obama's reforms will
lower costs, protect patient choice and provide more options... The
truth is that after failing to stop the President on the recovery act,
failing to stop him on the budget, on equal pay for women and
children's health care, Republicans have decided that they have no
other choice when it comes to blocking health insurance reform than to
just lie, than to just make it up... Republicans have substituted scare
tactics with substance and lies for the truth."

Edward Coyle, Alliance for Retired Americans Executive Director

"There's
one thing that Michael Steele keeps leaving out of his so-called senior
bill of rights and that's the right to be told the truth. Today is yet
another day in the parade of lies and fear being peddled by Steele and
the Republican National Committee.  Aided and abetted by the insurance
industry, this campaign tries to scare already-anxious seniors who have
been repeatedly misled in this health care debate.  Older Americans
have much to gain from health care reform, but you would never know it
if all you did was listen to Michael Steele and Fox News."

Steve Regenstreif, AFSCME Director of Retiree Programs

"In
1995 Newt Gingrich said even though we'd like to, we can't get rid of
Medicare in round one because we don't think that's politically smart,
but we believe it's going to 'wither on the vine.' In 2007, President
Bush called for hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts to both
Medicare and Medicaid. So what I see now is a public campaign to
mislead seniors and to pretend that Republicans are the great defenders
of Medicare.  But the record proves otherwise."

THE GOP ASSAULT ON SENIORS

REPUBLICANS, LED BY MICHAEL STEELE, HAVE LONG SOUGHT TO CUT MEDICARE

Steele Called for Dealing With "Inefficiencies, Absolutely" in Medicare. Michael
Steele said, "You've got to look at the Medicare system as a whole and
see that it's in financial trouble. So how do you correct that? What
steps? And Republicans have been arguing this for 10 years now -- and
they've gotten vilified by the Democrats in the past for even
mentioning entitlement reform -- so that it is more efficient, so that
there are services that are promised to you, you get. And so the cost
is driven down, etc. So apart from taking $500 billion out of that, how
do you do that?" Asked, "Part of correcting it is to keep the idea of
cuts on the table, correct?" Steele answered, "Oh yeah. You've got to
deal with those inefficiencies, absolutely." [ABC "Top Line" 8/31/09]

Steele Said He Favored Medicare Cuts. INSKEEP:
"You would be in favor of certain Medicare cuts?" STEELE: "Absolutely,
you want to maximize the efficiencies of the program." [NPR, 8/27/09]

2006: Steele Said "Everything Has to Be On the Table" In Regards to Cuts to Medicare.
Asked what federal programs he would cut, Steele said, "Seventy-eight
percent of our spending is in two areas: education and health care."
When Tim Russert pointed out "Seventy percent is Social Security,
Medicare and Defense," Steele answered, Absolutely. Absolutely."
Russert: "Would you touch those?" Steele: "Abso - Tim, everything
has..." Russert: "Everything's on the table." Steele: "Everything has
to be on the table, my friend." [NBC Meet the Press, 10/30/06]

  • National
    Journal: Steele's Pledge To "Protect Medicare" Might Have Been "More
    Convincing Had It Not Come Five Months After Nearly Four-Fifths Of
    House  Republicans Voted To Literally End The Program As We Know It For
    All Americans Younger Than 55."
    "Republican National Committee
    Chairman Michael Steele's pledge this week to 'protect Medicare' might
    have been more convincing had it not come five months after nearly
    four-fifths of House Republicans voted to literally end the program as
    we know it for all Americans younger than 55. They cast that vote on
    April 2 in support of a GOP alternative budget plan that would have
    converted Medicare from an open-ended entitlement that guarantees
    seniors virtually unlimited access to care into a voucher system that
    provides future retirees only a fixed sum of money to purchase private
    health insurance." [National Journal, 8/28/09
  • Washington Independent: Republicans Have Suddenly Embraced "The Same Medicare System They've Long Tried To Privatize." "The
    sentimental flip-flop, many experts argue, is hardly accidental. Faced
    with sweeping Democratic proposals that include the creation of a
    public insurance plan and the broad expansion of Medicaid to subsidize
    millions of uninsured Americans, Republicans are fighting tooth and
    nail to kill the legislation. Their tactics have ranged from the wholly
    absurd - like claims that the Obama administration hopes to promote
    abortion and euthanasia - to the simply uncharacteristic, like the
    sudden embrace of the same Medicare system they've long tried to
    privatize. The scare tactics have resonated with seniors, who oppose
    the reforms more than any other group. But the opposition strategy also
    puts Republicans in the odd position of blasting away at the public
    plan at the same time that they're adamantly defending the virtues of
    Medicare, the working definition of government-backed health care. In
    the eyes of many experts, the strategy is sign that GOP leaders will
    say anything to defeat the legislation. Alluding to the trillions of
    dollars of deficit spending run up by Republican leaders this decade,
    Henry Aaron, health policy expert at the Brookings Institution, seemed
    to find the change of heart amusing. 'They do not want to do anything now
    that would raise the deficit and they do not want to cut spending
    because that would deny someone something (even though there is
    considerable waste),' Aaron said in an email. 'But they claim to be all
    in favor of health reform. Go figure!' 'As far as economic probity is
    concerned,' Aaron added, 'no one has ever accused the Republican
    leadership of consistency.' Julian Zelizer, political scientist at
    Princeton University, pointed to a similar explanation. 'It's just
    politics - politics and hypocrisy,' he said. 'It can scare seniors
    against Obama's plan.'" [Washington Independent, 8/17/09]

THE 2009 GOP BUDGET PROPOSAL GUTTED MEDICARE...

AP: The Republican Budget Would "End Medicare As It Is Presently Known." "For
their part, House Republicans are offering an alternative that
eventually would end Medicare as it is presently known." [AP, 4/1/09]

The GOP Budget Would Gut Medicare And Replace The Benefit With A Reduced Health Care Subsidy.According
to the AP, "On Medicare, workers under the age of 55 would enroll in
private plans and receive premium subsidies equal to the average
Medicare benefit when they retire. Benefits would not be changed for
people in the program or people 55 or older." According to Rep. Paul
Ryan, "We preserve the existing Medicare program for all those 55 or
older; and then, to make the program sustainable and dependable, those
54 and younger will enter a Medicare program reformed to work like the
health plan members of Congress and federal employees now enjoy.
Starting in 2021, seniors would receive a premium support payment equal
to 100% of the Medicare benefit on average. This would be income
related, so low-income seniors receive extra support, and high-income
seniors receive support relative to their incomes -- along the same
lines as the president's Medicare Part D proposal." [AP, 4/1/09; Rep.
Paul Ryan op-ed, WSJ, 4/1/09]

The GOP Budget "Contemplates Major Cuts To Medicare." "But
the Republican alternative budget doesn't drastically cut spending for
most programs, rather freezing it in place through 2014. It rescinds
some of the stimulus spending and contemplates major cuts to Medicare
and Medicaid. 'What they're proposing [with regard to Medicare and
Medicaid] far exceeds anything that's ever been accomplished before and
would require deep eviscerating cuts, maybe even voucherizing the
Medicare program,' said Rep. John Spratt of South Carolina, the lead
author of the Democratic budget." [Huffington Post, 4/1/09]

...AND SOUGHT TO CUT SOCIAL SECURITY PAYMENTS

The GOP Budget Would Means Test Future Social Security Benefits. The
GOP budget would "establish a means test for future Social Security
benefits (potentially reducing payments to wealthier Americans)." [Wall Street Journal, 4/1/09]

REPUBLICAN LEADERS PRAISED BUSH'S PROPOSED MEDICARE CUTS

Rep. Ryan Praised President Bush's Budget That Proposed Cuts To Medicare.
"The President's budget achieves the important goal of balancing the
budget in the near term - without raising taxes - through fiscal
policies that promote economic growth, and limit federal spending to
realistic levels. The President's budget also recognizes that our
nation's challenges go well beyond the next few years. This budget
takes a significant, critical step toward addressing the greatest
threat to our nation's future strength and prosperity -- the
unsustainable growth of our largest entitlement programs. While
acknowledging it doesn't 'fix' the entitlement problem in one fell
swoop, this budget proposes reforms that would reduce Medicare's
long-term unfunded liability by nearly one third." According to the New
York Times, Bush's budget called "for large cuts in the growth of
Medicare, far exceeding what he proposed last year, and he will again
seek major savings in Medicaid, according to administration officials
and budget documents." [Rep. Paul Ryan release, 2/4/08; New York Times, 1/31/08]

Rep. Boehner Called Bush's Budget That Proposed Cuts In Medicare An "Important First Step" For Reining In Medicare Spending. Boehner:
"As our nation faces increasing economic uncertainty, it is more
important than ever to stay on track toward balancing the budget
without raising taxes on families and small businesses. ... Finally, I
invite the Majority to join Republicans in committing to long-term,
fundamental entitlement reform.  Last fall, the first Baby Boomer
received a Social Security check, reminding us all of the fiscal
tsunami our nation will face if we do not act to prevent a catastrophic
collision between entitlement programs and bankruptcy.  For the good of
current and future generations, this challenge must be addressed.  It
is the height of irresponsibility to simply ignore this issue, as
Democrats did in their budget last year, and have done for many years. 
It is time to work together and make the difficult choices necessary to
preserve these programs so their exploding costs do not threaten future
generations.  The President's budget is an important starting point for
this conversation - one that I hope will continue in the weeks and
months to come." According to the New York Times, Bush's budget called
"for large cuts in the growth of Medicare, far exceeding what he
proposed last year, and he will again seek major savings in Medicaid,
according to administration officials and budget documents."  [Rep. Boehner release, 2/4/08; New York Times, 1/31/08]

Bush Called For Hundred Of Billions In Cuts To Medicare And Medicare. "Depending
on whom you ask, the budget that President Bush proposed last week will
save or sink Medicare and Medicaid, two popular programs that, along
with Social Security, threaten to swamp the federal budget as the
baby-boom generation retires. Bush, citing the need for fiscal
responsibility, proposed reducing by $101 billion over five years the
spending growth of the two health programs, which serve 93 million
people and will cost the government $564 billion this year. One of his
most controversial ideas is to charge wealthier seniors higher Medicare
premiums for the second time in the program's 41-year history." [Washington Post, 2/11/07]

REPUBLICAN LEADERS TRIED TO DESTROY MEDICARE IN THE 1990s...

Newt
Gingrich In 1995: Even Though We'd Like To, We Can't Get Rid Of
Medicare "In Round One Because We Don't Think That That's Politically
Smart...But We Believe It's Going To Wither On The Vine."
Newt
Gingrich said to a Blue Cross/Blue Shield conference in 1995, "[n]ow
let me talk a little bit about Medicare...So what we're trying to do,
first of all, is say, O.K., here is a government monopoly plan. We're
designing a free-market plan. Now, they're very different models. You
know, we tell Boris Yeltsin, 'Get rid of centralized command
bureaucracies. Go to the marketplace.' O.K., what do you think the
Health Care Financing Administration is? It's a centralized command
bureaucracy. It's everything we're telling Boris Yeltsin to get rid of.
Now, we don't get rid of it in round one because we don't think that
that's politically smart, and we don't think that's the right way to go
through a transition. But we believe it's going to wither on the vine
because we think people are voluntarily going to leave it
-voluntarily." [New York Times, 7/20/96]

Republicans
Sought To Cut 14% From Medicare Over Only Seven Years In 1995, Planned
To "Sharply Raise Medicare Premiums For Affluent Elderly People, Reduce
Payments To Doctors And Hospitals And Let Beneficiaries Switch From
Medicare To Private Health Plans."
In an article with the headline,
"G.O.P's Plan to Cut Medicare Faces a Veto, Clinton Promises," the New
York Times reported that, "President Clinton said today that he would
veto the Republicans' legislative package for Medicare and Medicaid. He
said that their proposals for large savings in the Government health
plans for the elderly and the poor would have 'Draconian consequences'
and would 'dismantle Medicare as we know it.'... The Republicans seek
to cut $270 billion, or 14 percent, from projected Medicare spending
during the next seven years... The Republicans would sharply raise
Medicare premiums for affluent elderly people, reduce payments to
doctors and hospitals and let beneficiaries switch from Medicare to
private health plans." [New York Times, 9/16/95]

...AND HAVE ALWAYS HATED MEDICARE AND PROGRAMS THAT HELP OUR SENIORS

Ronald Reagan: "[I]f you don't [stop Medicare] and I don't do it, one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it once was like in America when men were free." [1961]

George H.W. Bush: Described Medicare in 1964 as "socialized medicine." [1964]

Barry Goldwater:
"Having given our pensioners their medical care in kind, why not food
baskets, why not public housing accommodations, why not vacation
resorts, why not a ration of cigarettes for those who smoke and of beer
for those who drink." [1964]

Bob Dole:
In 1996, while running for the Presidency, Dole openly bragged that he
was one of 12 House members who voted against creating Medicare in
1965. "I was there, fighting the fight, voting against Medicare . . . because we knew it wouldn't work in 1965." [1965]

BUSH, MCCAIN AND REPUBLICAN LEADERS EMBRACED GUTTING AND PRIVATIZING SOCIAL SECURITY

Bush Called For Cutting Social Security Benefits. "President
Bush called Thursday night for cutting Social Security benefits for
future retirees to put the system on sound financial footing, and he
proposed doing so in a way that would demand the most sacrifice from
higher-income people while insulating low-income workers." [New York Times, 4/29/05]

McCain Embraced Bush's Plan To Privatize Social Security In 2008. "On
Social Security, the Arizona senator says he still backs a system of
private retirement accounts that President Bush pushed unsuccessfully,
and disowned details of a Social Security proposal on his campaign Web
site." [Wall Street Journal, 3/3/08]

McCain Proposed Social Security Cuts. "As
a result, the McCain campaign says the candidate intends to keep Social
Security solvent by reducing the growth in benefits over the coming
decades to match projected growth in payroll tax revenues. Among the
options are extending the retirement age to 68 and reducing
cost-of-living adjustments, but the campaign hasn't made any final
decisions." [Wall Street Journal, 3/3/08]

  • McCain Proposed Privatizing Social Security In 2000. "A
    centerpiece of a McCain presidential bid in 2000 was a plan to divert a
    portion of Social Security payroll taxes to fund private accounts, much
    as President Bush proposed unsuccessfully. Under the plan, workers
    could manage the money in stocks and bonds themselves to build a nest
    egg and, at retirement, also receive reduced Social Security payments
    from the government. Proponents say the combination of the nest egg and
    government payouts could give a retiree more than the current system,
    but opponents say the change would undermine the Social Security
    system." [Wall Street Journal, 3/3/08]

Rep. Boehner Pledged To "Get Serious" About Privatizing Social Security. Q:
"Where does Social Security reform stand?" Rep. Boehner: "I just met
with Congressman [Frank R. Wolf, Virginia Republican], a few minutes
ago with his SAFE Commission [formed to fix the entitlement programs].
In 1990 when I first ran for Congress, I talked about the need to
reform these big entitlement programs because the sooner we began the
process, the easier it would be to make the necessary changes so that
these programs were sustainable for the long term. ... If I'm around in a leadership role come January, we're going to get serious about this." [Washington Times, 7/30/06]

Rep. Jim McCrery Said Congress Should Make Social Security Overhaul Its Top Priority. "Congress should make Social Security overhaul its top priority next year,
while a rewrite of the tax code and revamping the nation's healthcare
system probably will wait until at least 2009, House Ways and Means
Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Jim McCrery, R-La., said today."
[CongressDaily, 6/6/06]

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