May 23, 2011
Washington, D.C.–Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the Republican plan to end Medicare. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“But we all know what will be the focus of this week’s biggest debate and biggest headlines. The primary conversation this week will be about the Republican plan to kill Medicare.
“People are talking a lot about that plan because there’s a lot in there to fear. The Republican plan would shatter a cornerstone of our society, and would break our promise to the elderly and the sick.
“It would turn over seniors’ health to profit-hungry insurance companies. It would let bureaucrats decide what tests and treatments seniors get. And it would ask seniors to pay more for their health care in exchange for fewer benefits. That’s a bad deal all around.
“So it’s easy to understand why the American people don’t support it. I won’t support it, either. And though Republican in the House supported this Medicare-killing plan almost unanimously, sometimes it’s difficult to tell where the Republican Party stands on the issue.
“We all saw how quickly one prominent Republican Presidential candidate spun himself into circles last week. First he called the plan for what it is: radical. He said it was ‘right-wing social engineering.’ Hours later, after Republicans jumped all over him, he reversed course and said he supports the plan to kill Medicare.
“Another prominent Republican, one who serves in this body, has been all over the map as well. First he said – in his words – ‘Thank God’ for the Republican plan to kill Medicare. Then he said he was undecided. Now he says he opposes it. We’ll tune in tomorrow to see if he changes his mind again.
“Our Republican colleagues can’t seem to believe the same thing today that they said yesterday. But when Democrats talk about Medicare, we still believe today the same thing we believed years ago, decades ago and generations ago: We believe in our responsibility to each other.
“Forty-six years ago this summer, President Lyndon Johnson, a former Majority Leader of this Senate, signed Medicare into law. As he did so, he said the following:
‘Few can see past the speeches and the political battles to the doctor over there that is tending the infirm, and to the hospital that is receiving those in anguish, or feel in their heart painful wrath at the injustice which denies the miracle of healing to the old and to the poor.’
“Because of Medicare, those injustices don’t exist as sharply as they did then – but they still exist. The old and the poor among us still seek help and healing. And it is still our responsibility to act not on political impulses, but with human concern and compassion. It is still our responsibility not to be motivated by short-term politics, but to be moved by the people who need Medicare – the people who count on this safety net to keep them from poverty, illness or worse.
“If we pay attention to those people, we’ll notice something else, too. While Republicans are tripping over themselves and trying to decide whether or not they want to kill Medicare, you know who hasn’t changed their mind at all? The American people.
“They haven’t wavered one inch. They have been as constant as Republicans have been erratic. They have been consistent, and they have been clear: They don’t want us to destroy their Medicare. We owe it to them to listen.”