Discuss as:

Demagogue this

From NBC’s Domenico Montanaro
Before unveiling his fiscal plan that would phase out Medicare (and make big cuts to much of the rest of the budget), Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) said this on Sunday of Democrats:

“They are going to demagogue us, and it's that demagoguery that has always prevented political leaders in the past from actually trying to fix the problem. We can't keep kicking this can down the road. The president has punted. We're not going to follow suit. And, yes, we will be giving our political adversaries things to use against us in the next election, and shame on them if they do that.”

But in American politics, there’s usually enough shame to go around.

Before the 2010 elections, it was Republicans doing the demagogue-ing -- so to speak. The GOP -- as well as outside conservative groups (like Crossroads GPS and 60 Plus, the conservative alternative to AARP) -- criticized the proposed cuts to Medicare in the health-care overhaul.

The Democratic National Committee attempted to play defense, but Republicans blitzed the airwaves grabbing onto the Medicare issue. (At First Read, we wrote about the GOP’s 180 -- and now apparent 360 -- on Medicare here, here, and here.)

Here’s a sampling of scripts and links from other ads Republicans and Republican-leaning groups ran:

60 Plus vs. former Rep. Allen Boyd (D-FL): Older man: “Allen Boyd has betrayed Florida seniors.” Woman: “Instead of voting to protect us, he supported Nancy Pelosi’s liberal agenda.” Another woman: “Boyd voted for Nancy Pelosi’s health care bill, which would cut $500 billion from Medicare.” Another man: “That will hurt the quality of our care.” Woman: “We thought Boyd was looking out for us. But Allen Boyd switched his vote on health care.” Man: “Florida seniors can send Allen Boyd a message – he betrayed us. This November, we’ll remember.” (Hat tip: Politifact.)

Crossroads GPS vs. Joe Sestak (D-PA):  “What’s Congressman Joe Sestak done? He voted to gut Medicare, slashing benefits for Pennsylvania seniors. The Obama-Sestak scheme could jeopardize access to care for millions. … Gutting Medicare, hurting seniors, killing jobs, Pennsylvania can’t afford Joe Sestak.”

That looks very similar to this NRSC vs. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO): Bennet: “I’ve been in Washington only a year.” Announcer: “And what’s Bennet done? He voted to gut Medicare, jeopardizing benefits for over 200,000 Colorado seniors. … Gutting Medicare, hurting seniors, killing jobs.”

Crossroads GPS vs. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA): “California seniors are worried. Barbara Boxer voted to cut spending on Medicare benefits by $500 billion. Cuts so costly to hospitals and nursing homes that they could stop taking Medicare altogether. Boxer’s cut would sharply reduce benefits for some and could jeopardize access to care for millions of others.  … Check the facts and take action. Call Boxer. Stop the Medicare cuts.”

And here was former RNC Chairman Michael Steele touting his proposed “Seniors Bill of Rights”: “No cuts to Medicare to pay for another program. Zero.”

There was even an RNC Spanish-language radio ad (translated, per RealClearPolitics): “Where is the money going to come from?  Will you really cut funding for Medicare to pay for it? How can that be good? That’s really going to hurt our seniors. Big federal spending programs, no improvement in jobs, and Medicare cuts. That’s just not good enough. We can’t afford for things to keep on this way.  Mr. President - is this the best you can do.”

From the ambiguously named, “League of American Voters”: Young woman: “Cutting Medicare $400 billion?” Faux government official: “Streamlining. The elderly are such a drain on the system.”

Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) v. Jim Meffert (DFL-MN): “Meffert’s for the trillion-dollar health-care takeover and a massive $500 billion cut in Medicare”

Here was the NRCC against former Rep. Mark Schauer (D-MI): “Maybe Schauer’s trying to hide his own vote to cut $500 billion from Medicare. Listen to Schauer caught on tape.” Schauer’s voice: “Yes, there are Medicare cuts.” Announcer: “Did Schauer really vote to cut Medicare?” Schauer again: “There are Medicare cuts.” Announcer: “Let’s save Medicare, and cut Schauer.”

Now freshman Rep. Dan Benishek (R-MI) vowed: “Social Security and Medicare are a promise we’ve made to our seniors. And I will keep that promise.” Announcer: “Dr. Dan Benishek’s plan would guarantee Social Security and Medicare for the future.”

Lamar Alexander (in Senate Republicans’ video at about 0:46): “We can say no to higher taxes, higher premiums, and cuts to Medicare.”

Here (and here) were DNC ads vs. Republicans on Medicare.