From TALKING POINTS MEMO:
The GOP continued its bloody walk into the Medicare buzzsaw Wednesday, when 40 out of 47 Senate Republicans voted in support of the House GOP budget, and its plan to phase out and privatize the popular entitlement program.
The test vote failed by a vote of 57-40. But the roll call illustrates that Medicare privatization — along with deep cuts to Medicaid and other social services — remains the consensus position of the GOP despite the growing political backlash against them.
Voting with all of the Democrats against debating the plan were Sens. Scott Brown (R-MA), Olympia Snowe (R-ME) — both 2012 incumbents — along with Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). Rand Paul (R-KY) voted against it because it wasn’t radical enough.
Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Pat Roberts (R-KS), and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) did not vote.
Democrats intentionally scheduled the vote less than 24 hours after a Democrat won a special election in New York’s 26th — and heavily Republican — congressional district, on the strength of defending Medicare from a GOP onslaught. The outcome of that election heightened the political stakes, but sent few Republicans bolting for the exits.
To shelter GOP dissidents from the vote to privatize Medicare, but also to shore up their bona fides on the right, the Senate also held a test vote on a similarly austere alternative budget authored by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA). The key difference? The Toomey plan remains vague on the question of how to reduce Medicare spending over time. All but three voting Republicans — Collins, Snowe, and Brown — voted to proceed with that plan, which would slash spending at a faster rate than even the House budget.
From the Atlantic wire:
Update: The Senate voted down Ryan’s bill 40 to 57 Tuesday afternoon. Five Republicans voted against the plan: Lisa Murkowski, Scott Brown, Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, and Rand Paul. Politico’s David Rogers writes that it’s a “tell-tale sign of trouble ahead” that there were more moderates voting nay than in a March test vote. And no moderate Democrats defected to vote for the plan, either, though Chuck Schumer didn’t vote.
Rep. Paul Ryan isn’t backing away from his plan to overhaul Medicare the day after, even in his estimation, the issue helped swing a special election in a conservative New York district to Democrats. Tuesday night, Ryan posted a second video, complete with sleek infographics, explaining why the program had to be changed. Wednesday morning, he told MSNBC that Democrats were using “Mediscare” tactics, and told the Peterson Foundation Summit that they are “are shamelessly demagoguing and distorting” the Medicare plan by “trying to scare seniors and using this as a political weapon.” Republicans have to act now, Ryan said, because “If we wait, if we allow these ‘Mediscare’ tactics to continue… to inflict paralysis on our system, do you know what happens then? Austerity.”
(Video at the Atlantic wire link)