— From NBC's Ali Weinberg
The Democratic National Committee held a conference call today criticizing Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele
for his Washington Post op-ed, in which he warned today of the
implications of a Democratic-led health-care reform bill being passed.
In the op-ed, Steele wrote that the Democratic proposals for
health-care reform "will give seniors less power to control their own
medical decisions and create government boards that would decide what
treatments would or would not be funded."
To that point, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) said on the conference
call that Steele's op-ed was "riddled with lies" and that "the
substance of this document uses false claims which have time after time
"The Republican Party has to take responsibility for their lies and
hypocrisy when it comes to seniors and health-insurance reform," she
Also on the call was former Congresswoman Barbara Kennelly (D-CT), now the president of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security. Noting Steele's critique that the Democrats will "raid, not aid" Medicare, she recalled her experience with Medicare disputes while serving in Congress.
"I remember then-Congressman [Newt] Gingrich being very proud of being quoted everywhere as saying he wanted Medicare to wither on the vine," Kennelly said. "That the Republican chair is now championing Medicare is hard for me to believe."
Edward Coyle, the executive director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, referred to statements Steele had previously made while running for the Senate in 2006.
"He [Steele] said that cuts to Medicare 'absolutely' had to be 'on the table' in order to 'control runaway federal spending,'" Coyle said, adding that Steele's op-ed was a "sad publicity stunt."
Schakowsky also reiterated House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's words that "we will pass the bill, it will have a public health insurance option in it."
When asked if she thought the Democrats would take a reconciliation vote on the health-care bill in order to circumvent Republican opposition, Schakowsky said, "[President Obama] is not going to let these individuals stand in the way," adding, "we'll reluctantly have to do it without them."