Letter to President Obama won’t help Scott Tipton in 2012

Rep. Scott Tipton, along with other Republican representatives, must be watching the New York 26th District House race with great concern, if not outright anxiety.

In that extremely conservative district, a Democrat has pulled ahead of the Republican candidate in the latest polls. Even if she fails to win, the close race has sent shock waves through the Republican establishment.

The key issue in that race is the Ryan budget plan passed by the House which, according to the Wall Street Journal, “would essentially end Medicare, which pays most of the health care bills for 48 million elderly and disabled Americans, as a program that directly pays those bills.”

In a concession to currently enrolled seniors, and those soon-to-be, the bill exempts those over 55 from the cuts. They will continue to receive current benefits, but as those under 55 reach retirement age, they would be enrolled in a voucher plan that would subsidize purchasing medical insurance.

Experts predict the change would add $6,000 to the cost of health care for seniors, if they can find a policy.

While radically cutting medical care for seniors, the Ryan budget proposed large tax cuts for the richest Americans and corporations. Since the saving would go to these tax cuts, the Ryan budget did not reduce the federal budget deficit.

When many Republicans came home for a victory lap at Easter, they found the tea parties much less friendly than they were during the campaign. Seniors from both parties were united in their opposition to turning Medicare into a voucher program.

The heat that came down from Democrats was so upsetting to freshman Republicans that 42 of them, including Tipton, sent a letter appealing to President Obama to damp down the heat.

A week after House Republicans passed the Ryan budget plan, the letter complained, “Democrats began launching ... ‘Mediscare’ attacks against Republicans. We ask that you stand above partisanship, condemn the disingenuous attacks and work with Congress to reform spending on entitlement programs.”

As economist Paul Krugman — who called the letter “pathetic” — says, the freshman Republicans are asking the president to make Democrats “stop saying that the Republican budget which would end Medicare as we know it, is a plan to end Medicare as we know it.”

But “Republican House members brought this on themselves by voting nearly unanimously for the Ryan plan,” The New York Times wrote, “so caught up in ideological fervor and hubris that they failed to anticipate the inevitable voter backlash.”

Why would the president want to “wipe the slate clean,” for the GOP and take off the table one of the most potent issues for the 2012 election? It was, after all, Republicans who first played the “Mediscare” card.

During the election, Republicans, including Tipton, falsely charged that cuts proposed by the Democrats would destroy Medicare. Raising the specter of “death panels,” Republican candidates frightened seniors while claiming to be defenders of traditional Medicare.

They ignored the fact that the Democratic cuts were to come from crackdowns on Medicare fraud and reductions in payments to private insurers for Medicare Advantage.

To make things more difficult for House Republicans, even though their leadership has recognized the futility of trying to pass the Ryan bill, “the party will not allow any dissent,” according to The New York Times.

Tipton claims he is “working to ensure no change (in Medicare) for current seniors and those nearing retirement.” Others can only wonder what the Republican plan will mean for them.

Tipton campaigned with charges that John Salazar would cut Medicare, despite Salazar’s denial of any such plans.

“Unlike John Salazar I’ll never put our seniors’ future at risk,” Tipton said in an ad.

For his own slogan, Tipton promised, “No cuts (to Medicare), no privatization, no scaring our seniors just to try to win this election.”

But he did not hesitate to scare constituents once he got to Washington by voting for the Ryan budget. He and his colleagues now want the president to silence their critics and legitimate their radical ideas by embracing them in a bipartisan coalition.

Fat chance. Bring on 2012.

Bill Grant lives in Grand Junction. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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