Republicans Shelve Medicare Overhaul Plan

Watching the Cars

Republicans don’t seem to have the strength of their convictions, already flip-flopping on their planned destruction of Medicare. Maybe they’ll regroup later this summer.

House Republicans signaled Thursday that they were backing away from the centerpiece of their budget plan — a proposal to overhaul Medicare — in a decision that underscored both the difficulties and political perils of addressing the nation’s long-term fiscal problems. While top Republicans insisted that they remained committed to the Medicare initiative, which had become the target of intense attacks by Democrats and liberal groups in recent weeks, the lawmaker who would have to turn the proposal into legislation said he had no plans to do so any time soon.

The lawmaker, Representative Dave Camp, Republican of Michigan and chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, said that while he still supports the party’s Medicare approach, opposition from Democrats made it pointless to proceed.

“I’m not interested in talking about whether the House is going to pass a bill that the Senate shows no interest in,” Mr. Camp said in an appearance at the National Press Club. “I’m not interested in laying down more markers. I am interested in solutions.”

Coupled with remarks by other House Republican leaders, his statement suggested that the party’s Medicare proposal had been shelved, even though the party’s lawmakers had taken a risky vote to pass the budget in the House just last month, and in the past two weeks had attempted to sell it to constituents in often-stormy town hall meetings.


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No Stairs Do Not Enter

Still, Senator Harry Reid should bring the bill to the Senate floor as he planned so that Senate Republicans can embarrass themselves too. Why should House GOP have all the fun? Especially since the rank and file Republicans were still supporting the plan:

Some members — especially freshmen from districts with steep re-election hills to scale — were upset to hear that the plan could be scotched after they had voted for the budget proposal and then invested so much hard work trying to sell it back home over the spring recess.

“I would be very disappointed if we didn’t follow through,” said Representative Joe Walsh, whose district lies in the Chicago suburbs. “We have spent, gosh, a month or two now trying to educate the American people to a pretty good reception. I appreciate the chairman’s notion, but I would continue to respectfully challenge him to get this thing through committee.”

Representative Bobby Schilling of Illinois said backing down now would be giving in “to lies and deceit told by the other side.”

“We’ve just got to address this problem,” he said. “Is it going to be perfect? No, but it needs to be addressed.”

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