Did Republicans really vote to ‘kill’ Medicare?

DID REPUBLICANS REALLY VOTE TO ‘KILL’ MEDICARE?…. Republicans have decided this is their chance — they can run scary Medicare ads, counting on some baseless demagoguery to scare seniors away from health care reform and Democrats.

Due respect to the RNC, but Democrats have been running scary Medicare ads since before running scary Medicare ads was cool.

In a new DNC ad unveiled late yesterday, Democrats are reminding seniors of the GOP’s recent history on the subject. “Republicans want to end Medicare,” the ad narrator explains. “You heard right, Republicans actually voted to abolish Medicare for future generations — one of the most important programs for seniors.

“America’s seniors have relied on Medicare for over 40 years — and Democrats are working to strengthen Medicare. But the plain truth is, Republicans have opposed Medicare from the start. Their leaders have called for cutting Medicare — and now for killing it. The Republican Party — No Friend of Seniors.”

Is the ad true? Actually, yes. Most Republicans really did “oppose Medicare from the start.” As recently as the 1996 presidential campaign, Bob Dole bragged about having voted against the original bill. And for years, GOP leaders have “called for cutting Medicare.” Indeed, the McCain/Palin platform called for significant cuts to the popular program.

But did Republicans vote to “end,” “abolish,” and “kill” Medicare? It’s provocative, but it’s a supportable claim. In April, 137 Republicans voted in support of a GOP alternative budget. It didn’t generate a lot of attention, but the plan, drafted by the House Budget Committee’s Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) called for “replacing the traditional Medicare program with subsidies to help retirees enroll in private health care plans.”

The AP noted at the time that Republican leaders were “clearly nervous that votes in favor of the GOP alternative have exposed their members to political danger.”

And the DNC’s new ad shows that those concerns were justified.

The more Republicans press Dems on Medicare, the more we’re likely to hear about the fact that a majority of the House Republican Caucus voted this year to kill Medicare as we know it, privatizing it out of existence.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation