Biden: GOP wants to dismantle Medicare and senior ‘dignity’by George Bennett | March 23rd, 2012
Biden spoke to a crowd of more than 400 at the Wynmoor retirement community.
Shedding his jacket before his remarks, Biden blasted the latest plan by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, which calls for changing Medicare for those now 54 and younger from a fee-for-service program to one in which the government would provide subsidies to purchase insurance.
“We believe in strengthening Medicare. They don’t,” Biden said.
“Make no mistake about it: The Republicans in Congress and their amen corner of Romney, Santorum and Gingrich, if any one of them get their hands on the keys to the White House, I promise you, you will see Medicare ended as you know it.”
Republicans argue that Medicare as it’s now known will end in 12 years unless changes are made.
The Medicare trustees estimate the program will no longer be able to pay full benefits beginning in 2024 unless additional savings or revenues are found.
Sen. Marco Rubio, in an opinion column distributed by his office today, accused President Obama and Democrats of failing to address Medicare’s long-term solvency.
“So far, the president has yet to put forth a serious plan to save Medicare for future generations. Unless we reform it, Medicare is headed for dramatic cuts, diminished care and ultimately will go broke. This is leadership failure at its worst,” Rubio wrote.
The 2024 estimate for Medicare’s inability to pay full benefits represents an improvement over estimates before a Democratic health care law passed in 2010. The health care bill extended the solvency of the program by slowing the estimated future rate of growth of Medicare spending increases by about $500 billion over 10 years.
Called “savings” by Democrats and “cuts” by Republicans, the Medicare changes were among the reasons senior voters broke Republican in the 2010 midterm elections.
Exit polls showed Democrats getting 52 percent of the senior vote in the 2006 and 2008 elections, but Republicans claiming 58 percent support from the 65-and-older electorate in 2010. The 2010 polls also showed 58 percent of seniors favored repealing the new health care law.
Biden, speaking on the second anniversary of Obama’s signing the law, warned that Republican calls for its repeal would immediately hit seniors by bringing back the “donut hole” gap in Medicare prescription drug coverage and ending free preventive-care doctor visits.
“Folks, these guys want to repeal all that. In the process, I would argue, they’ll be repealing that sense of dignity which is an incredible part of what this is all about,” Biden said.
Biden said Medicare could be strengthened if Republicans would agree to higher taxes on the wealthy.
“Today’s new Republican Party is focused on one thing: additonal tax cuts for the very wealthy,” Biden said.
The Ryan plan and most other reforms proposed by Republicans would leave Medicare intact for current beneficiaries and those who are 55 and older. Biden said Republicans are cynically hoping seniors won’t care about future beneficiaries.
“They look at people like you and me and they they think all we care about…is ourselves after a lifetime, a lifetime of you not only caring for yourself but caring for all those people you love,” Biden said. “They don’t understand us.”
Biden was scheduled to attend a private campaign event in Hollywood this afternoon. One Democrat said the Hollywood event is not a fundraiser but a meeting with about 40 “community leaders.”