The fallback for Republicans is to try a bit of a head-fake—"Look, they did it, too." (Always a strong way to defend your ideas.) In this case, it's the vote of Democrat Rep. Steve Israel for the House version of the prescription drug plan back in 2003.
The committee’s majority staff said Israel “cast the deciding vote that would have enacted a new premium support program in Medicare. That premium support model, contained in the House-passed Medicare prescription drug benefit legislation, is similar to the one contained in the House Republican budget, which Israel is now lambasting.”The House bill had some broader Medicare reforms that did not survive the legislative process, that provided some antecedent to the current voucher idea for Medicare. When Israel cast that vote, he specifically said he was voting for it so it could be made better.
Israel’s office called the charge “laughably disingenuous.”
“Rep. Israel voted to expand Medicare to offer prescription drug benefits, and that is the exact opposite of the last two Republican budgets that end the Medicare guarantee,” his spokeswoman Samantha Slater told TPM. “It’s apples and oranges, and desperate at that.”
“Is this plan flawed? I believe it is,” Israel said before voting for the House bill. “I believe the Senate plan, supported by [former Sen.] Ted Kennedy [(D-Mass.)], is much better. But we can’t get near that plan unless we go to a House-Senate conference. And we can’t go to a House-Senate conference unless we pass this bill today.”It's quite a stretch to call the prescription drug plan (flawed as it was) the same (or just as bad, as Republicans seem to be arguing) as the current Republican plan. That's just not going to fly. Try as they might, they're not going to find cover from Democrats for adopting Ryan's social Darwinism as their marvelous vision for America.