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McConnell Demands Dems' Help "Stick It to Seniors"

May 14, 2011

On Friday, Medicare's board of trustees announced that the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010 has added eight years of solvency to the health care program serving 46 million American seniors. That news capped a week of political irony involving Medicare. After freshmen House Republicans complained to President Obama about the backlash over their vote to kill the guaranteed insurance program, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell demanded Democrats join the GOP in passing draconian Medicare reduction as a condition of raising the U.S. debt ceiling. Of course, in the run up to the 2010 midterm elections, McConnell attacked Democrats for "sticking it to seniors with cuts to Medicare."
Despite having voted seven times to raise the debt ceiling under George W. Bush, Mitch McConnell for weeks has been moving the goalposts for President Obama. In March, he added a vote on a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, insisting "not a single one of the 47 Republicans will vote to raise the debt ceiling unless it includes with it some credible effort to do something about our debt." McConnell then upped the ante:

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell warned on Friday that GOP senators will not vote to increase the government's borrowing limit unless President Barack Obama agrees to rein in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, laying down a high-stakes marker just weeks before the debt ceiling is reached.

This week, McConnell added several new conditions for boosting the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling and averting a global economic calamity. As the New York Times reported:

Mr. McConnell said that he would look for an agreement to reduce spending on discretionary federal programs in the 2012 and 2013 fiscal years and to put caps on spending for 2014 and beyond.
"There will be no tax increases in connection with raising the debt ceiling," he added.

On top of it all, Senator McConnell demanded political air cover from President Obama and Congressional Democrats:

"If there is a grand bargain of some kind with the president of the United States, none of it will be usable for either side in next year's election -- none of it. We can do something important for the country together, and this is the opportunity."

If that sounds more than a little hypocritical coming from Mitch McConnell, it should.
McConnell played a central role in the wildly successful Republican effort to scare the bejesus out of America's seniors over mythical Medicare benefits cuts. As it turns out, the GOP didn't merely oppose Medicare its inception; McConnell was a key player in the GOP crusade to gut the program by 15% in the 1990's. In the summer of 2009, McConnell repeatedly turned to rapid-fire lies beginning about Obama's Medicare funding plans to machine gun health care reform:

"Some in Congress seem to be in such a rush to pass just any reform, rather than the right reform, that they're looking everywhere for the money to pay for it -- even if it means sticking it to seniors with cuts to Medicare."

That salvo came just weeks after McConnell promised to defeat health care reform in the Senate, warning America's highest turnout voting block:

"They are going to pay for this plan by cutting Medicare, that is cutting seniors."

McConnell's fear-mongering hardly ended there. He repeatedly warned that the Affordable Care Act would "deny, delay, or ration care." After insisting to NBC's David Gregory that 47 million uninsured in America "don't go without health care," Mitch McConnell darkly warned that a public option "may cost you your life."
But now that the GOP desire to gut Medicare may cost many Congressional Republicans their political lives, Mitch McConnell wants Democrats to protect them.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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