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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Congressional Leaders Issue Medicare Talking Points for August


With members of Congress back home for a five-week recess, leaders in both parties are working overtime to make sure that their respective messages on Medicare are being pounded in their Congressional districts. The case is particularly urgent now that Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin has been chosen as the number two on the Republican ticket.

In a memo sent Friday, Representative Steve Israel, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told House Democratic candidates: “Your job for the next 80 days is simple: Take the national debate about Medicare that Paul Ryan on the Republican ticket has given us, and win this battle in your district.”

Mr. Israel asserts in the memo that Mr. Ryan's budget, which passed in the Republican-controlled House, is “is toxic with voters,” and that its proposed changes to the Medicare program are also a problem. “Even Republican strategists ad mit the Ryan budget spells trouble for Republicans,” he writes.

Both Republicans and Democrats insist a robust debate about the future of Medicare is one that they welcome, and one in which they have the upper hand.

Earlier this week, House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio told his Republican conference that they were actually on “offense” in the debate over Mr. Ryan's vision.

“The pundits are buzzing that with Paul on the ticket, the Democrats are going to attack us on Medicare,” he told them. “Well, here's a news flash: they were gonna do that anyway. The best defense on Medicare is a good offense. And Paul Ryan gives us the ability to play offense,” Mr. Boehner told his colleagues, according to aides.

On Wednesday, Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, the Democrats' message man, sent a memo to his Democratic colleagues urging them to use the August recess to tell voters that Mr. Ryan is disingenuou s in his positions on deficit reduction.

“In Ryan's budget, the savings achieved by his plan to privatize Medicare and gut investments in the middle class do not go toward reducing the deficit, but rather to pay for further tax cuts for the wealthy,” said Mr. Schumer in his own note to his fellow members. “Ryan is a nice man, but a deficit hawk he is not.”

Pushing the fiscal argument at home will, Mr. Schumer added, “increase the likelihood that Romney's choice of Ryan will backfire.”

Mr. Israel lists a host of talking points for candidates to use in their districts, including, “The Ryan budget, which my opponent supports, ends Medicare, increasing health care costs for seniors by $6,400 a year while giving $265,000 in additional tax breaks to people making more than $1 million and “Even Republicans say it's bad for seniors and former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich called this plan “right-wing social engineering.”

Televisio n advertisements released by both Republican and Democratic organizations this week support each side's argument.