Pelosi's Point of Pride: Taking the Axe to Medicare

NRCCSpeaking Sunday on CBS' Face the Nation, Democrat Leader Nancy Pelosi claimed for the second time in a week that her party's plan for Medicare is modeled on the $500 billion in cuts to the program under the Democrats' government takeover of healthcare:

PELOSI TO CBS: GOVERNMENT HEALTHCARE TAKEOVER IS THE MODEL FOR MEDICARE CUTS: "SCHIEFFER: 'Let me just interrupt you. Don't you have to though give some plan or some idea of how you're going to reform Medicare because we all know it can't sustain as it is.

"REP. PELOSI: Well, we in our health care bill as you probably know saved half a trillion dollars in Medicare. ... That's one of the fights that we are having. because we want to have those savings to keep Medicare solvent." (Remarks from Rep. Nancy Pelosi, CBS' Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer, 6/5/2011)

TO ABC NEWS: “We took $500 billion dollars, half a trillion dollars, in the health care bill, to put [Medicare] on a path of stability for a decade going into the future.” (Jonathan Karl and John Parkinson, “Exclusive: Pelosi Says Democrats Have ‘Very Good Chance’ to Win Back the House in 2012,” ABC News, 6/2/2011)

PELOSI TRANSLATOR: DEMS CUT $500 BILLION FROM MEDICARE TO PAY FOR OBAMACARE: “It would cut an additional $60 billion from Medicare, bringing total cuts to the program to more than $500 billion over the next 10 years.” (Shailagh Murray and Lori Montgomery, “With Senate ‘Fixes’ Bill, GOP Sees Last Chance to Change Health-Care Reform,” The Washington Post, 3/24/2010)

The reality is Pelosi's cuts did little to improve the solvency of Medicare. Just more than a year after Pelosi succeeded in cutting Medicare by $500 billion, the program's finances are getting worse:

MEDICARE WILL GO BANKRUPT IN 2024, FIVE YEARS EARLIER THAN FORECAST LAST YEAR: “Medicare's trust fund will run dry in 2024, five years earlier than forecast just last year, and Social Security's will be exhaused by 2036, adding fuel to the debate over cutting one or both programs to reduce annual budget deficits.” (Richard Wolf, “Medicare, Social Security Money Running Out Faster,” USA Today, 5/13/2011)

Because the Democrats did nothing to stop Medicare from going bankrupt, the Democrat plan for Medicare now requires either an "immediate 17-percent reduction" in benefits or bankruptcy:

DEMOCRAT PLAN MEANS AN “IMMEDIATE 17-PERCENT REDUCTION” IN BENEFITS OR “IMMEDIATE 24-PERCENT INCREASE” IN TAXES: “The long-range financial imbalance could be addressed in several different ways. In theory, the standard 2.90-percent payroll tax and the additional tax 0.9-percent tax on high-income earners could be immediately increased by the amount of the actuarial deficit to 3.69 percent, or expenditures could be reduced by a corresponding amount. Note, however, that these changes would require an immediate 24-percent increase in the tax rate or an immediate 17-percent reduction in expenditures.” (pp. 28-29, “2011 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Hospital Insurance and Federal Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Funds,” The Boards of Trustees of the Federal Hospital Insurance and Federal Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Funds, 5/13/2011)

AMERICAN ACADEMY OF ACTUARIES: BENEFIT CUTS COULD BE EVEN HIGHER: “The projected HI deficit over the next 75 years is 0.79 percent of taxable payroll. Eliminating this deficit would require an immediate 24 percent increase in payroll taxes or an immediate 17 percent reduction in benefits—or some combination of the two. Delaying action would require more drastic tax increases or benefit reductions in the future.” (“Medicare’s Financial Condition: Beyond Actuarial Balance,” American Academy of Actuaries, May 2011)

Democrats also have empowered a board of unelected bureaucrats to make healthcare decisions, endangering seniors' access to care and threatening the doctor-patient relationship:

WSJ: OBAMA MEDICARE PLAN IS MEDICARE “RATIONING”, WILL “THROW GRANNY OVER THE CLIFF”: “One place to start is by attacking the Democratic plan to cut Medicare via political rationing. Mr. Ryan's budget had the virtue of embarrassing President Obama's spend-more initial budget, and the White House responded by proposing to increase the power of the new Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) to decide what, and how much, Medicare will pay for. The ObamaCare bill goes to great lengths to shelter this 15-member, unelected board from Congressional review, with the goal of letting these bureaucrats throw granny over the cliff if Medicare isn't reformed. Yet few Americans know anything about IPAB or its rationing intentions.” (Editorial, “The GOP’s New York Spanking,” The Wall Street Journal, 5/26/2011)

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