Democrats blast Cravaack on Medicare changesIn February, before freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack had even taken a vote on Medicare, left-leaning groups made it clear they would use the issue to try to define Cravaack as out of touch with his district.
By: John Myers, Duluth News Tribune
In February, before freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack had even taken a vote on Medicare, left-leaning groups made it clear they would use the issue to try to define Cravaack as out of touch with his district.
That’s when Americans United for Change paid for a billboard along Interstate 35 showing a concerned-looking woman asking Cravaack, of Lindstrom, not to privatize Medicare.
Now, with Cravaack on record with a vote supporting major changes to Medicare, Americans United for Change is back. This time the group is running television ads on WDIO, KDLH and KBJR in Duluth blasting Cravaack’s recent vote for the Republican 2012 budget plan that would see Medicare transition to a voucher system for seniors to pay for private health insurance.
Meanwhile, another group, the House Majority Political Action Committee, is running spots blasting Cravaack on four Duluth radio stations through Friday, also on the Medicare issue, saying the effort will cost seniors more money and reduce coverage.
“Just days ago, Cravaack voted for the Republican budget that protects big corporations and the wealthy instead of Minnesota families and seniors,” the radio ads claim. “Cravaack’s plan protects billions in subsidies for big oil and cuts taxes by trillions for the wealthiest Americans and big corporations. That’s just going to make the deficit worse.
“But it doesn’t stop there,” the ad says. “Cravaack would increase the share of the tax burden on the middle class. And end Medicare as we know it. It even increases the costs for seniors to buy prescription drugs.”
Cravaack on Monday called the ads “political demagoguery,” saying Washington’s partisanship had come to Minnesota with the national groups now targeting the 8th District. In a statement to the News Tribune, he defended his vote as a way to avoid a federal budget disaster in the future.
On April 15, Cravaack voted for the House Republican budget plan for fiscal 2012 that begins Oct. 1. The Republican budget is often referred to as the Ryan plan for House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan,
And while the plan is far from a done deal — Democrats in the Senate and President Obama oppose the changes — Cravaack’s vote is seen by Democrats trying to retake the 8th District seat as making him vulnerable.
“If we do nothing now, our children and grandchildren will pay the price in the form of reduced benefits, higher taxes and a reduced standard of living,” Cravaack said, adding that some fiscal analysts predict the entire federal budget will be consumed entirely by interest payments on the debt, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security by 2025.
“Chairman Ryan’s budget not only preserves Medicare, but puts America back on the path to fiscal sustainability,” Cravaack said. “While I understand many people may have concerns about the chairman’s budget, let’s have an open and honest dialogue.”
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office concluded that “most elderly people would pay more for their health care (under the Ryan plan) than they would pay under the current Medicare system.”
Under the Republican plan, for people now younger than age 55, the federal government would contribute a specified amount of money toward the premium for private health insurance, turning Medicare into a voucher program. By 2022, 65-year-olds would pay about twice as much for care than they would under the current system — $12,500 compared to $6,150 now. Those 65 in 2030 would pay $20,713, compared to $9,138 under current Medicare.
Ryan also proposes lowering the top federal income tax rate for individuals and corporations from 35 percent to 25 percent, which was underscored in the ads against Cravaack.
“House Republicans like Chip Cravaack have no problem asking Minnesota seniors, middle-class families and veterans to make sacrifices, yet refuse to do the same for big corporations and millionaires who would receive trillions in new tax breaks,” said Alixandria Lapp, executive
director of House Majority PAC, in a statement on the ads.
Similar ads are playing in northern Wisconsin in Rep. Sean Duffy’s district; in southern Wisconsin in Ryan’s district; and in
western Iowa in Rep. Steve King’s district. All are Republicans.
The House Majority PAC TV ad can be seen at www.youtube.com/