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24-Hour Alert: Tomorrow Cassidy Can’t Escape His Support For Slashing Retirement Benefits, Forcing Seniors To Pay More, Billionaires To Pay Less

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Cassidy Expected To Cast His Fourth Vote To Pass Ryan Plan, Ending Medicare As We Know It & Turning It Into a Voucher Program

New Orleans, Louisiana – Tomorrow, Congressman Bill Cassidy will cast his fourth vote since 2011 to pass the Rep. Paul Ryan budget, which slashes retirement benefits for seniors, hurts middle-class families, and forces seniors to pay more, while billionaires pay less.

The latest Ryan plan – let’s call it Cassidy/Ryan, since Bill Cassidy has enthusiastically supported each subsequent version of it – does the following:

  • It ends the Medicare program as we know it today, by privatizing it and turning it into a voucher program, forcing as many as 650,000 Louisiana seniors to pay more for their health care each year.
  • While seniors are forced to pay more, millionaires and billionaires are awarded with massive tax breaks.
  • And it eliminates Pell Grants for part-time students, many of whom are already working their way through college and can’t otherwise afford it.

As Louisianians know, this won’t be the first time Bill Cassidy has taken care of the wealthy at the expense of middle-class families and our seniors; since entering Congress, Bill Cassidy has supported every major piece of legislation that would slash seniors’ retirement benefits and force them to pay more.

See the below timeline of Bill Cassidy’s votes to hurt seniors and the middle class:

April 15, 2011

  • Bill Cassidy votes for the Ryan Budget for FY 2012, which would end Medicare as we know it by privatizing it and turning it into a voucher program, forcing seniors in Louisiana to pay $6,800 more for their health care each year. While seniors pay more, billionaires receive tax cuts under the plan.
  • Bill Cassidy also votes for the Republican Study Committee’s budget – the RSC Budget for FY 2012 – which raises the retirement age to 70.

July 19, 2011

  • Bill Cassidy votes for a budget called “Cut, Cap and Balance,” a plan so extreme that it would force a cut of up to 25% to Social Security. As it would force seniors to pay tens of thousands of dollars more, even the AARP comes out against the plan for its “arbitrary reductions.”

March 29, 2012

  • Bill Cassidy votes to enact the Ryan Budget for FY 2013 to end Medicare as we know it by making it into a voucher program. While seniors pay more, millionaires and billionaires again pay less under this plan.
  • Cassidy votes for the RSC Budget for FY 2013, which would again raise the retirement age to 70.

March 20, 2013

  • Cassidy casts his third vote, to enact the RSC Budget for FY 2014, to raise the retirement age for Social Security and Medicare to 70.

March 21, 2013

  • Cassidy votes for the Ryan Budget for FY 2014, which would turn Medicare into a voucher program, forcing seniors to pay more each year in order to help finance a tax cut for millionaires and billionaires.

TOMORROW, April 10, 2014

  • Bill Cassidy will cast his fourth vote, for the Ryan Budget for FY 2015, to end Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher program, forcing seniors to pay more while billionaires pay less.

“Bill Cassidy has voted for every major piece of legislation that would slash seniors’ retirement benefits and his agenda to raise the retirement age to 70 and end Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher program could hurt up 650,000 seniors across Louisiana,” said Campaign for Louisiana Communications Director Andrew Zucker. “Bill Cassidy wants to take care of millionaires and billionaires at the expense of seniors and the middle class, and Louisianians simply can’t trust Bill Cassidy to have their backs in the Senate.”

BACKGROUND

Cassidy Voted for FY 2013 Republican Study Committee Budget Plan. [H.Con.Res.112, Vote #149, 3/29/12]

2011: Bill Cassidy Voted For The FY 2012 Ryan Budget. [H Con Res 34, Vote #277, 4/15/11]

2012: Bill Cassidy Voted For The FY 2013 Ryan Budget. [H Con Res 112, Vote #151, 3/29/12]

2013: Bill Cassidy Voted For The FY 2014 Ryan Budget.  [H Con Red 25, Vote #88, 3/21/13]

The FY 2015 Ryan Budget Calls Medicare An “Open-Ended, Blank-Check Entitlement, And Voucherizes Medicare For Seniors Starting In 2024. [FY 2015 Ryan Budget, 4/1/14]

The FY 2015 Ryan Budget Calls For A Top Individual Individual Tax Rate Of 25%.  [FY 2015 Ryan Budget, 4/1/14]

The FY 2015 Ryan Budget Would  “Eliminate [Pell Grant] Eligibility For Less-Than-Half-Time Students.” [FY 2015 Ryan Budget, 4/1/14]

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 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]
  • 2011: Louisiana Would Be Forced To Pay $6,800 More Per Year. According to a report by the Joint Economic Committee, the average Louisiana senior would be forced to pay $6,830.40 more in out of pocket expenses under the Ryan budget plan. [Joint Economic Committee, 5/20/11]

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 Voted For Cut, Cap and Balance Plan to Force Deep Cuts to Social Security. In July 2011, Cassidy voted for the Cut. Cap and Balance Act, which CNN reported “would impose strict caps on all future federal spending while making it significantly tougher to raise taxes — the solution favored by hard-line conservatives.” [HR 2560, Vote 606, 7/19/11; CNN,7/19/11]

  • Cut, Cap and Balance “Would Require a 25 Percent Cut to Everything in the Federal Budget – From Social Security to Veterans’ Benefits to the Pentagon to Education.” According to the Center for American Progress, “Of that $4.4 trillion in 2016, about $520 billion will be interest payments on the debt—an area Congress can’t directly cut. That leaves about $3.9 trillion in noninterest spending, from which Congress would have to slash about $1 trillion in order to bring total spending down to 18 percent of GDP. This would require a 25 percent cut to everything in the federal budget—from Social Security to veterans’ benefits to the Pentagon to education. Congress could try to protect some programs from such severe reductions but then, of course, other areas would have to be slashed even more.” [Center for American Progress, 7/18/2011]
  • AARP Opposed Cut, Cap and Balance Because It Did Not Shield Social Security and Medicare From “Arbitrary Reductions.” In a July 2011 letter to Senators, AARP CEO Addison Barry Rand wrote, “The Cut, Cap and Balance Act requires that a balanced budget amendment to the United States Constitution be transmitted to the states as a pre-condition of increasing the debt ceiling.  Social Security and Medicare, which are not excluded under the balanced budget amendment, would therefore be at risk for arbitrary reductions under the constitutional amendment, and as such, AARP is opposed.” [AARP Letter, 7/21/11]

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