Five Questions You Should #AskDrCassidy At Today’s Scripted Google Hangout
New Orleans, Louisiana – Congressman Bill Cassidy is hosting a Google Hangout today, during which he no doubt plans to answer a slew of prescreened questions that fit the narrow issue parameters he’s willing to discuss in his bid for Senate. Here are five questions Bill Cassidy ought to finally stop dodging, and start answering today:
1. Bill Cassidy, why did you vote to allow interest rates on Federal Stafford loans to double, and then tie them to the market with only limited protections for students? Why did you repeatedly vote to cut Pell Grants, which more 100,000 Louisiana students rely on to afford an education, and eliminate Stafford loan subsidies for undergraduates?
2. You’ve repeatedly voted to raise the retirement age for Social Security and Medicare to 70. Do you really think that seniors, many of whom do physical labor to earn their living, should have to work for five more years before being able to retire?
3. You have repeatedly voted to privatize Medicare by turning it into a voucher program that would force Louisiana seniors to pay thousands more for their health care each year. Do you also support privatizing Social Security as you’ve indicated in the past?
4. Now that you’ve been caught admitting you voted for the exact same Medicare savings under ACA that you’ve attacked in order to raise campaign cash, will you still peddle the same ridiculously false attack?
5. As every newspaper in Louisiana calls for expanding Medicaid at virtually no cost to Louisiana taxpayers, do you still believe Medicaid expansion is akin to “heroin addiction?”
“Since the day Bill Cassidy launched his bid for the U.S. Senate, he’s ducked and dodged countless questions from Louisiana families about why he aligns himself with special interests instead of the middle class,” said Campaign for Louisiana Communications Director Andrew Zucker. “If he really wanted to introduce himself to voters, Bill Cassidy would explain why he’s repeatedly voted to make college less affordable for young Louisianians, why he wants to slash seniors’ Social Security and Medicare benefits, and whether or not he still thinks expanding access to health care for 250,000 working Louisianians is akin to ‘heroin addiction.'”
Cassidy Voted to End Federal Subsidies for Student Loans, Tie Loan Rates to Prevailing Market Trends With Rates Not Locking In Until Graduation. In 2013, Cassidy voted for passage of the bill that would tie student loan interest rates to the 10-year Treasury note rate. Interest rates on all federal student loans (except Perkins loans) issued on or after July 1, 2013 would be set each year at the 10-year Treasury note plus 2.5 percent. Rates for graduate and parent PLUS loans would be set at the 10-year note plus 4.5 percent. Overall interest rates would be capped at 8.5 percent and 10.5 percent, respectively. The bill passed by a vote of 221-198. [HR 1911, Vote #183, 5/23/13; New York Times, 5/23/13]
- House Bill “Links Student Loan Rates to the Ups and Downs of the Financial Markets,” Rates Would Rise in Coming Years. As reported by the AP, “House lawmakers on Thursday approved legislation that links student loan rates to the ups and downs of the financial markets in spite of a veto threat from President Obama. The Republican-backed the bill would allow students to dodge a scheduled rate hike for students with new subsidized Stafford loans next month, but rates could rise in coming years.” [AP, 5/23/13]
- House Republicans Passed Their Bill Despite A Veto Threat From President Obama While Interest Rates Were Set To Double Only A Month Later. “Dismissing a veto threat from President Barack Obama, lawmakers in the House passed legislation that links student loan rates to the ups and downs of the financial markets in a vote largely along party lines. The Republican-backed bill would allow students to dodge a scheduled rate hike for students with new subsidized Stafford loans next month, but rates could rise in coming years…. Interest rates on new subsidized Stafford loans are set to double, from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent, on July 1. Lawmakers from both parties say they want to avoid the increase but were divided on how.” [Talking Points Memo, 5/23/13
- Ryan Budget Freezes Pell Grant Funding to Not Keep Pace With Inflation. According to an analysis of the Ryan budget conducted by Campus Progress: “Under the House Republican Budget, Pell Grants would be capped at the current level of $5,645 for 10 years, and eliminate all mandatory funding. In other words, under Ryan’s plan, Pell Grants would not keep up with the pace of inflation and rising tuition costs, and would be worth less each successive year. [Campus Progress, 3/12/13]
- Ryan Budget Would Adjust the Pell Grant’s Needs Analysis Formula “Making Fewer Students Eligible.” According to an analysis of the Ryan budget conducted by Insider Higher Ed: “The budget also calls for reversing changes to the grant’s needs analysis formula put into place in 2007, which expanded the number of students eligible for Pell Grants, in essence making fewer students eligible to receive them. It also revisits proposals put forward last year: using “fair value” accounting for student loans, which makes the program seem much less profitable for the federal government than it does under current accounting rules.” [Inside Higher Ed, 3/13/13]
- The Budget Would Cut Pell Grants For 9.6 Million Students By Over $1,000. Under the House Republican budget, critical education programs would be cut. “The Department of Education would be cut by more than $115 billion over a decade. 9.6 million students would see their Pell Grants fall by more than $1000 in 2014, and, over the next decade, over one million students would lose support altogether. This would derail bipartisan education reforms and deeply undermine K-12 education and college opportunity,” the Office of Management and Budget stated. [OMB, 3/21/12]
2011-2012: According To The Department Of Education, 133,740 Louisianians Received Pell Grants Worth $496,788,730. [Department of Education, 2011-2012 End Of Year Program Report, accessed 3/25/14]
2013-2014: Louisiana Was Awarded $6,786,577 In Federal Perkins Loans. [Federal Campus-Based Programs Data Book 2013, Final 2013-14 Allocations – State Listings by Type and Control, 2013]
- 2011-2012: According To The Department Of Education, 4,615 Louisianans Were Awarded Perkins Loans Worth $11,721,749. [Recipient Data – Award Year 2011-12, Federal Work-Study, 2013]
Bill Cassidy Voted For The FY 2014 Republican Study Committee “Back To Basics” Budget Plan. [H.Con.Res.25, Vote #86, 3/20/13]
- The 2014 RSC Budget Eliminated Subsidized Stafford Loans For Undergraduates. “The Budget Control Act of 2011 ended in- school subsidies for graduate students, and the RSC budget proposes a policy that would end in-school subsidies for undergraduate students. This would save $54 billion over ten years.” [Republican Study Committee FY 2014 Budget, accessed 5/10/13]
- The Republican Study Committee Budget Would Increase The Social Security Retirement Age To 70. “This budget would slowly phase in an increase in the Social Security full-retirement age for individuals born in 1962 (currently 51) and after to an eventual full retirement age of 70.” [Republican Study Committee FY 2014 Budget, accessed 5/10/13]
- The Republican Study Committee Budget Would Increase The Medicare Retirement Age To 70. “To address the increased demands on Medicare, this budget proposes raising the age of Medicare eligibility, beginning in 2024, by two months every year beginning with those born in 1959 until the eligibility age reaches 70, bringing Medicare eligibility in parity with Social Security.” [Republican Study Committee FY 2014 Budget, accessed 5/10/13]
Bill Cassidy Voted For The FY 2012 Republican Study Committee “Honest Solutions” Budget Plan. [H.Con.Res.34, Vote #275, 4/15/11]
- The Republican Study Committee Budget Would Increase The Social Security Retirement Age To 70. [Republican Study Committee FY 2012 Budget, April 2011]
- The Republican Study Committee Budget Would Increase The Medicare Retirement Age To 67. [Republican Study Committee FY 2012 Budget, April 2011]
Cassidy: Options To Save Social Security Are To Decrease Benefits And increase The Eligibility Age, Increase Taxes, Or Invest In Stocks. In September 2008, The Advocate reported: “Cassidy said the options to save Social Security are limited – decrease benefits and increase the eligibility age, increase taxes, or invest in something with greater return such as stocks.” [The Advocate, 9/25/08]
- On Social Security, Cassidy Said He Would Support Voluntary Personal Investment Accounts As Part of A Solution. In August 2008, The Advocatewrote: “Cassidy said he supports voluntary personal investment accounts as part of the solution, if it is fiscally sound. ‘Institutional investors often get a better rate of return than individual investors,’ he said.” [The Advocate, 8/11/08]
- Cassidy Voted Against Protecting Social Security and Medicare Benefits from Privatization. In March 2011, Cassidy voted against a measure that would have prohibited continuing appropriations funds for fiscal year 2011 for being used in developing or implementing a system that cuts Social Security benefits or that privatizes Social Security. The amendment also prohibited funds from being used to develop or implement a system that cuts Medicare benefits, eliminates guaranteed health coverage for seniors or establishes a Medicare voucher plan that limits payments to beneficiaries in order to purchase health care in the private sector. The motion failed, 190-239. [HJR 48, Vote178, 2/15/11]
Cassidy Touted Paul Ryan’s Medicare Plan To Shift Retirees To Private Insurance And Raise The Eligibility Age. The Gonzales Weekly Citizen wrote about a Cassidy town hall: “An entitlement reformer in his own right, Cassidy didn’t share details of his own plan for Medicaid reform but instead touted Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan which would shift retirees to private insurance. The Ryan plan would gradually raise the Medicare eligibility age to 67 from 65 and turn it into a voucher-like program where future seniors would receive subsidies to purchase health care on the open market.” [Gonzales Weekly Citizen, 8/23/12]
- Potentially 654,375 Louisiana Seniors Would Be Forced Out Of Traditional Medicare And Into A Voucher Program. Under the Republican plan to end Medicare as we know it, all Louisiana seniors will receive a voucher instead of guaranteed benefits under traditional Medicare beginning in 2024. For the 654,375 Louisianans aged 45-54 at the time of the most recent Census, the value of their vouchers would be capped at growth levels that are lower than the projected increases in health care costs, forcing them to spend more out of pocket and diminishing their access to quality care. Private insurance plans will aggressively pursue the healthiest, least expensive enrollees, thereby allowing Medicare – currently the lifeline for 718,037 Louisiana seniors – to “wither on the vine.” [House Republican Budget, 3/12/13; CAP, 3/20/12; Census, accessed on 3/10/13; KFF, accessed on 3/10/13]
Headline: “Bill Cassidy Attacks Obamacare Medicare Savings, But Admits He Voted For Them” [Huffington Post, 3/18/14]
- Cassidy Admitted At A Town Hall Meeting That He Voted For The Medicare Savings Included In The ACA: “Actually I Voted To Do That At One Point.” “Cassidy admitted at a town hall meeting in Gonzales, La. last Monday that he voted for the cuts to Medicare Advantage as a way to create savings that can be used more broadly.’ Among the things that the president’s health care law does is it cuts Medicare Advantage,’ said Cassidy, who is a physician. ‘Now it would be one thing if the savings they were taking from Medicare Advantage were put back into the trust fund because as we mentioned, the trust fund is running out of money. But if they, so if they are taking the savings of that and putting it back in the trust fund, I’m ok with that, actually I voted to do that at one point, because then you paid into the Medicare trust fund, the money should be through you, if there’s savings to be achieved put it back in to extend the life of the trust fund.’” [Huffington Post, 3/18/14]
Cassidy: Medicaid Is “Like A Heroin Addiction” For States. In December 2012, The Advocate reported on a lecture Cassidy gave at George Washington University: “‘Medicaid is like a heroin addiction’ for states, Cassidy said.” [The Advocate, 12/9/12]
- Cassidy Called Medicaid “Welfare Medicine.” “Now, opponents of repeal argue that this gives Americans insurance, but what in truth it often gives is Medicaid. Now, Medicaid is a Federal-State program, which is often called ‘welfare medicine,’ and it is a program which is destroying State budgets.” [Library of Congress, Congressional Record, 1/19/11]