House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kans.) blabbed to their right-wing corporate backers last week that their real aim is to eliminate the Medicare program, not to "save" it.
"I was there," Dole bragged in an Oct. 25 speech to the American Conservative Union, "fighting the fight, voting against Medicare, one of 12 -- because we knew it wouldn't work -- in 1965 ."
The same day, Gingrich told a Blue Cross/Blue Shield conference, "Now, we didn't get rid of [Medicare] in round one because we don't think that that's politically smart and we don't think that's the right way to go through a transition. But we believe it's going to wither on the vine because people are voluntarily going to leave it."
The revelations added more fury to a torrent of protests to President Clinton demanding he veto the GOP Budget Reconciliation with its $270 billion Medicare cut coupled with a $245 billion cut in capital gains and other taxes on the wealthy.
The AFL-CIO alone has generated six million pieces of literature and 450,000 phone calls to the White House demanding a presidential veto. In his speech to the AFL-CIO Convention in New York, Clinton cited the AFL-CIO's "passionate grassroots campaign" adding "The White House mail room is jammed with postcards from union retirees.... you have got the Capitol Hill switchboards groaning with calls from your members and I say send more." Clinton denounced the GOP cuts in Medicare and the Budget Reconciliation in its entirety. "I don't like it...and if it passes, I will veto it," he said. The delegates gave him a standing ovation.
The AFL-CIO convention approved plans to field hundreds of union members in its "Stand Up for America's Working Families" campaign in next year's Congressional and presidential elections. The aim is to target for defeat every lawmaker who voted "against the interests of working people" especially those who voted to cut Medicare and Medicaid.
A New York Times-CBS poll released Oct. 26 revealed that by a 2 to 1 margin the public rejects the GOP-proposed Medicare cuts. By a 3 to 1 margin, they reject the tax giveaway to the rich. And 81 percent said that even if the GOP plan is approved, it will not produce a balanced budget by the year 2002.
This reflects a credibility gap for the Republicans since it was President Reagan who ran the national debt up to $4 trillion with runaway military spending and tax cuts for the rich. Yet the House voted 227 to 203 to approve the package. The Senate followed suit. But the GOP lacks the votes to override a presidential veto.
The GOP plan is now pending before a House-Senate conference committee assigned to resolve minor differences and send it to Clinton before Thanksgiving. Both versions contain the Medicare and Medicaid cuts which together total $450 in reduced funding for health care over the next seven years. The package would also slash $10 billion in funds for child nutrition programs and $10.2 billion in the student college loan program. The GOP package contains a $245 billion cut in capital gains and other taxes on the wealthy.
Greg Marchildon, press secretary of Families USA, a liberal advocacy group, told the World the comments by the top GOP leaders are a devastating expose of the Contract on America and are certain to "come back to haunt Bob Dole" in his race for the presidency.
"Dole and Gingrich have been telling us that they wanted to 'preserve' and 'protect' Medicare," Marchildon said. "Now their real agenda is out in the open for everyone to see. They were opposed to Medicare and Medicaid from the beginning and now they want to destroy these programs."
Families USA is one of 60 grassroots organizations in the Save Our Security Coalition which is mobilizing against the cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, foodstamps and other vital benefit programs. "We have been concentrating on opposition to cuts in Medicaid care for the poor," he said. "If these cuts are approved, it will be a devastating blow for millions of people."
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