By Ben Pershing
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Republicans launched their latest salvo against President Obama's health-care reform plans Monday, rebranding their existing criticism of his proposals as a new "Health Care Bill of Rights for Seniors." The package immediately drew return fire from Democrats.
Having seized on the idea that Obama's plans represent a "risky experiment," Republicans have lately focused their health-care message toward its impact on the elderly. The Republican National Committee's "bill of rights" includes calls to "protect Medicare," "prohibit efforts to ration health care based on age" and "ensure seniors can keep their current coverage." The list does not represent an actual reform proposal -- congressional GOP leaders have not introduced a plan of their own -- but rather a series of things Republicans think reform should not do.
RNC Chairman Michael S. Steele amplified that message in an opinion piece Monday in The Washington Post, writing that "under the Democrats' plan, senior citizens will pay a steeper price and will have their treatment options reduced or rationed."
Steele also referred to the GOP's "contract with seniors," coining a phrase similar to the "Contract With America" that was credited with helping Republicans recapture control of Congress in 1994. "The Republican Party's contract with seniors includes tenets that Americans, regardless of political party, should support," Steele wrote.
Democrats wasted little time Monday striking back against Republicans' new offensive.
"The Republican Party has to take responsibility for their lies and hypocrisy," Rep. Jan Schakowsky (Ill.) said on a conference call organized by the Democratic National Committee. She described the GOP's manifesto as "simply riddled with lies" and designed to "scare senior citizens."