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Bill Cassidy On His Votes To Raise the Retirement Age To 70 & Make Medicare a Voucher Program: That’s “Monkey Dust”

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Cassidy Voted For Rep. Ryan & RSC Budgets Last Week – His Agenda Rewards Billionaires With Tax Cuts At the Expense of Seniors & the Middle Class

New Orleans, Louisiana – Last week, Bill Cassidy cast his fourth votes in as many years to pass the Rep. Paul Ryan budget making Medicare a voucher program and the Republican Study Committee budget raising the retirement age for Social Security to 70, cementing his position as the opponent of seniors in this election. But when asked by the New York Times about how those votes might affect his prospects in the Louisiana Senate race, Cassidy “shrugged,” and called the votes “monkey dust.”

Cassidy should try telling that to nearly 650,000 seniors in Louisiana who could be hurt if he had his way.

Here’s a taste of what Bill Cassidy describes as “monkey dust”:

  • Raising the retirement age for Social Security to 70, forcing hundreds of thousands of Louisianians to work for even longer before they can retire;
  • Reopening the Medicare Part D donut hole for more than 65,000 seniors in Louisiana;
  • Ending Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher program, and forcing seniors to pay thousands of dollars more for their health care each year;
  • Raising taxes on middle class families by an average of $2,000 for families with children, while enacting tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires.

“Voting to slash retirement benefits for seniors has become so routine for Bill Cassidy that he’s now describing his agenda to raise the retirement age to 70, make Medicare a voucher program and force seniors to pay more, while billionaires pay less, as ‘monkey dust,'” said Campaign for Louisiana Communications Director Andrew Zucker. “Bill Cassidy’s agenda takes care of millionaires and billionaires at the expense of seniors and the middle class, and seniors in Louisiana deserve better than for Cassidy to scoff about his support for policies that would reduce their earned benefits.”

BACKGROUND

Cassidy “Shrugged” At The Criticism That His Vote For The Ryan Budget Would Hurt The Elderly, Calling It “Monkey Dust.” “Louisiana Democrats painted Representative Bill Cassidy, who is seeking the seat of Senator Mary L. Landrieu, as an opponent of the elderly who is ready to award tax breaks to billionaires at the expense of a struggling middle class. Mr. Cassidy shrugged. ‘The dominant issue in our race is the president’s health care law,’ Mr. Cassidy said. ‘The second dominant issue is that Senator Landrieu has voted with Barack Obama 97 percent of the time. Everything else is monkey dust.’” [New York Times, 4/11/14]

2014: Bill Cassidy Voted For The FY 2015 Ryan Budget. [H. Con. Res. 96, Vote #177, 4/10/14]

  • 2013: Bill Cassidy Voted For The FY 2014 Ryan Budget.  [H. Con. Res. 25, Vote #88, 3/21/13]
  • 2012: Bill Cassidy Voted For The FY 2013 Ryan Budget. [H. Con. Res. 112, Vote #151, 3/29/12]
  • 2011: Bill Cassidy Voted For The FY 2012 Ryan Budget. [H. Con. Res. 34, Vote #277, 4/15/11]

2014: Bill Cassidy Voted For The FY 2015 Republican Study Committee. [H. Con. Res. 96, Vote #175, 4/10/14]

  • 2013: Cassidy Voted For The FY 2014 RSC Budget.  [H.Con.Res.25, Vote #86, 3/20/13]
  • 2012: Cassidy Voted For The FY 2013 RSC Budget. [H.Con.Res.112, Vote #149, 3/29/12]
  • 2011: Cassidy Voted For The FY 2012 RSC Budget. [H.Con.Res.34, Vote #275, 4/15/11]

The FY 2015 Ryan Budget Raises Taxes On The Middle Class By $2,000, Giving Millionaires A Tax Cut Of Over $87,000 Each.  The Ryan budget proposes to lower tax rates for high-income earners from 39.6% to 25%, which would require the middle-class to pay more in taxes in order for the budget to balance as proposed.  A Tax Policy Center analysis of a similar proposal found that the tax reductions for high-income earners would cost $5.7 trillion, making it mathematically impossible “to enact Rep. Ryan’s tax policies in a deficit-neutral tax reform without including big tax increases for low- and middle-income taxpayers.”  Taxpayers with income exceeding $1 million would receive an average net tax decrease of over $87,000, according to a White House analysis.  In order to pay for these tax breaks, the Ryan budget would  raise taxes on middle class families with children by an average of at least $2,000.  [House Republican Budget Chairman’s Mark, 4/1/14; New York Times Editorial, 4/01/14; TPC, 3/15/13; TPC, 8/1/12; CTJ, 4/2/14; WH, 4/1/14; WH, 4/8/14]

  • The Ryan Plan “Would End Traditional Medicare By Capping Spending And Offer Vouchers To Buy Private Insurance.” “The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that Obama pushed for doesn’t cut Medicare; it simply reduces projected future increases in costs by $700 billion over 10 years. […] Those same reductions in the future growth of Medicare are contained in the budget bills sponsored by Ryan and approved by the same House Republicans who now say they’ll campaign against the provision. Romney has endorsed the Ryan plan. The difference is the savings in the Republican bill don’t go to help seniors with their prescription drug costs. In fact, Ryan’s legislation increases the amount senior citizens will have to pay for drugs since it repeals the health-care legislation that provides the extra subsidy. Ryan’s budget bill also would end traditional Medicare by capping spending and offer vouchers to buy private insurance.” [Bloomberg, 8/13/12]
  • The Ryan Plan “Would Essentially End Medicare.” “Republicans will present this week a 2012 budget proposal that would cut more than $4 trillion from federal spending projected over the next decade and transform the Medicare health program for the elderly, a move that will dramatically reshape the budget debate in Washington. The budget has been prepared by Rep. Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican and the new chairman of the House Budget Committee, and it represents the most complete attempt so far by Republicans to make good on their promises during the 2010 midterm elections to cut government spending and deficits. Though Rep. Ryan based the Medicare portion of his budget on a previous plan created in collaboration with a Democrat, Alice Rivlin, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and long-time budget expert, the current plan isn’t likely to get much Democratic support. Instead, it will set up a broad debate over spending and the role of government heading into the 2012 general election. The plan would essentially end Medicare, which now pays most of the health-care bills for 48 million elderly and disabled Americans, as a program that directly pays those bills.” [Wall Street Journal, 4/4/11]

The FY 2015 Ryan Budget Reopens The Medicare Part D Donut Hole For 65,043 Louisiana Seniors. [White House, 4/9/14]

  • AARP: Health Care Reform “Protects And Strengthens Guaranteed Benefits In Medicare,” And “Closes The Dreaded Medicare Part D ‘Doughnut Hole,’ A Gap In Prescription Drug Coverage That Is Life-Threatening For Many.” [AARP, Press Release, 3/10/12]

The FY 2015 Ryan Budget Will Force Seniors To Pay More To Remain In Medicare.  Under the Ryan budget proposal, more than 45 million seniors could be forced to choose between traditional Medicare and a voucher program starting in 2024.  According to a previous Congressional Budget Office report, the proposal would force seniors who want to remain in traditional Medicare to pay $800 more per year than they would have under current law, raising premiums by 50 percent.  Furthermore, seniors electing to stay in traditional Medicare and avoid buying private insurance will pay $1,200 more than seniors in private plans.  Private plans would be permitted to tailor benefit packages to attract healthier beneficiaries and leave the sicker, more expensive patients for Medicare. Over time, Medicare would become less financially viable and would have to raise premiums, driving away more healthy beneficiaries and setting off a premium spiral that could unravel the program. [House Republican Budget Chairman’s Mark, 4/1/14; CBO,  9/13/14; Census, 2010; CAP, 4/1/14; DPCC, 3/13/13; CBPP, 3/15/13]

  • 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]
  • 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]

The FY 2015 RSC Budget Raised The Retirement Age For Social Security To 70. “This budget would slowly phase in an increase in the Social Security full-retirement age. The full retirement age would continue the current-law’s gradual increase of two months per year beginning in 2022 until the full retirement age reaches 70.” [The FY 2015 RSC Budget, accessed 4/9/14]

  • The FY 2014 RSC Budget Increased 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]

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