WASHINGTON – A new Democratic ad portrays seniors as having to engage in acts of economic desperation to pay their health care bills in a hypothetical future in which the House-approved GOP budget that privatizes Medicare becomes law.
The 30-second spot, titled "How Will You Pay?", begins with one elderly man sitting behind a stand selling lemonade for 50 cents per cup. The next scene shows a senior mowing someone's lawn as the resident berates him. It ends with an older man dressed up as a firefighter and stripping for young women.
"This is a defining moment for House Republicans: they chose to end Medicare rather than end taxpayer giveaways for Big Oil or tax breaks for the ultra rich," said Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "Seniors who pay a lifetime into Medicare deserve the benefits they’ve earned. Under the Republican plan, if you make over a million dollars, you win the lottery. If you're a senior, you lose your Medicare. That's not right."
The proposal by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), dubbed the "Path To Prosperity," privatizes Medicare over ten years and provides vouchers for seniors to buy their own insurance. The value of the vouchers would erode over time, forcing the elderly to pay more out of pocket for medical care. Americans currently under 55 would be shuffled into the new program when they retire in 10 or more years, at which point Medicare in its present form would cease to exist.
The measure is a nonstarter in the Senate and has been rejected by President Barack Obama. Democrats are determined to make it a 2012 campaign issue after House Republicans passed it on Friday by a 235-193 margin -- without a single Democratic vote. Four Republicans opposed it.
The National Republican Congressional Committee shot back in a strongly-worded statement to Raw Story condemning the ad as "shameless" while defending the GOP plan.
"The Democrats' shameless scare tactics are merely a way to mislead voters and cover up the real Democrat plan to watch Medicare die a painful death, an unacceptable option for America's seniors," NRCC spokeswoman Joanna Burgos said. "The reality is that the Republican budget blueprint saves Medicare for future generations with no disruption for those in and near retirement, while the Democrats' plan cuts Medicare benefits and raises taxes on job creators and every person who receives a paycheck."
Obama and Democrats have accepted the need to contain Medicare's spiraling costs, but they insist that it can be done by improving delivery and efficiency and without reducing benefits.
A remarkable 80 percent of American voters oppose cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, a new McClatchy-Marist poll found Monday. Eighteen percent support reductions in the scope of the two programs, and 2 percent are unsure. Surveys have consistently shown public opposition to Medicare cuts, despite concerns about the growing national debt.
Watch the DCCC ad, released Tuesday, below.