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John Garamendi
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Congressman John Garamendi, who is running to represent California's 3rd Congressional District, appeared on Fox News (caution - autoplays) to talk about the Democratic Party’s Medicare plan, and the current attacks waged by Republicans about the so-called 716 billion dollar cuts to benefits for seniors.

As a former Insurance Commissioner for the State of California, Congressman Garamendi was able to lay out the facts in a way that we can all understand. When asked by the Fox News host asked about the 716 billion dollars that Obamacare moves "out of Medicare," Congressman Garamendi provided the following explanation:

John Garamendi: But the question is what does it do with the 716 billion dollars, and where does it come from? Most of it comes from the insurance companies that have been receiving an unnecessary bonus for the advantage programs. And the rest of it comes from waste, fraud, and abuse that [are] in the Medicare system. The other question is where does that money go? It goes right back into benefits for seniors and for others. And the law specifically says not one nickel can be taken from the benefits themselves – every benefit is guaranteed. Furthermore – these are not my words, these are the words that the AARP – that says the Ryan Romney Republican budget actually will end the Medicare guarantee for seniors now and into the future.
Congressman Nick Mulvaney (R, SC-05) was there to represent the Republican position, which he generally referred to as the "Ryan program." Congressman Mulvaney didn't have much of substance to say in opposition to Congressman Garamendi's statement that the "Ryan program" will end the Medicare guarantee. Basically, his position is that the "old" Ryan plan ended Medicare as we know, but the new "bipartisan" one doesn't - trust us!

After explaining that there is no "bipartisan" agreement, Congressman Garamendi continued to explain how the Romney/Ryan plan for Medicare will ultimately lead to its failure:

John Garamendi: I was the Insurance Commissioner of California for eight years and I can tell you, once you begin to divide future beneficiaries from the existing beneficiaries, the existing program will fail and those -- that's an actuarial fact that will happen. And it is clear in the 2012 – as well as the 2011 – Romney/Ryan Republican budget – and Mr. Romney has bought into the Ryan budget – that it will terminate the guarantee of Medicare for future beneficiaries. And, because of the nature of insurance, the existing beneficiaries will see an ... ever increasing increase in their share of the cost of Medicare. That's not my talk, that’s talk by every analysis that has been done of the issue. And so what you have here is a situation in which the Medicare guarantee, which has been available to every person who turns 65, that guarantee ends. Yes, they'll be given a voucher, a voucher that overtime and, initially and overtime, will be insufficient to pay for medical care. And let's understand, the population that's 65 and over is a very, is a population that has the highest health care cost. And so if you're given a voucher that doesn't keep pace with the cost as well as the incident of illnesses, then you're going to find a shifting of costs from the Medicare program to the individual as well this a situation which ... that program will fail.
I am so happy to see Congressman Garamendi taking the struggle to save Medicare into difficult territory. As I've written about previously, John Garamendi is a "better Democrat." His will be a voice in Congress that we can all be proud to having representing Democrats and our true blue values - no compromise on issues like ending the war in Afghanistan while making sure that returning veterans receive the help and benefits they need to get back on their feet, immigration reform and the DREAM act, equality for the LGBT community including marriage equality. Seriously, he's as good as Democrats get. I wish there were more like him across the nation!

But he is facing a tough campaign this year - a newly drawn district being eyed as a potential pick-up by the Karl Roves of the world and an opponent who has John Boehner's support - so we can't afford to take this race for granted. Let's make sure that Congressman Garamendi returns to Congress in 2013!

Full transcript of Congressman Garamendi's appearance on Fox News (September 2, 2012):

Paul Ryan (tape): Medicare is a promise. And we will honor it. A Romney/Ryan administration will protect and strengthen Medicare for my mom's generation, for my generation, and for my kids and yours.

Fox News: Vice presidential nominee Congressman Paul Ryan says the biggest threat to Medicare is Obamacare and that the Romney/Ryan ticket will put a stop to that. But could seniors fall through the cracks if the president's health care is dismantled? Joining us to have a fair and balanced debate are Democratic Congressman John Garamendi and Republican Congressman Nick Mulvaney. We understand that Congressman Mulvaney while they may be having some audio trouble so Congressman Garamendi let me start with you. The Republicans' biggest criticism has been recently that the new health care law moves 716 billion dollars out of Medicare. Is that at fair characterization?

John Garamendi: But the question is what does it do with the 716 billion dollars, and where does it come from? Most of it comes from the insurance companies that have been receiving an unnecessary bonus for the advantage programs. And the rest of it comes from waste, fraud, and abuse that is in the Medicare system. The other question is where does that money go? It goes right back into benefits for seniors and for others. And the law specifically says not one nickel can be taken from the benefits themselves – every benefit is guaranteed. Furthermore – these are not my words these are the words that the AARP – that says the Ryan Romney Republican budget actually will end the Medicare guarantee for seniors now and into the future.

FN: Congressman Mulvaney, if you can hear us, I want to bring you into this conversation as well. How do you respond to charges by the Democrats that, essentially what Congressman Ryan has proposed in his plan, and I know that those are being worked together, he's not the top of the ticket. Ultimately Governor Romney will make decisions and issue policy on his own and where he stands on some of these Medicare changes, but there's a lot of attention to what Congressman Ryan's plans have been so far, the fact that they will wind up hurting seniors by taking away Medicare as they now know it.

Nick Mulvaney: Sure and I can hear now, thanks. I apologize for that. What you've just heard – and John it's good to see again - what you've just heard were the attacks that were on the original Romney plan in 2011, not the plan that he offered in 2012. Remember, he got together with Senator Wyden to come up with a bipartisan proposal that changed what Mr. Garamendi was talking about just a second ago, and the new Ryan proposal that Mr. Romney has adopted also keeps traditional Medicare on the table as an option for everybody. So to come back and say, “Look the AARP is against it; that was an older plan - it changes Medicare as we know it - that's an older plan. And, you know in this business we get to choose what we fight against time to time and the Democrats, and including Mr. Garamendi, are sort of attacking something that is no longer on the table and that's unfortunate that – we need to have the debate. If there is one thing I agreed with wholeheartedly, with Paul when he gave his speech in Tampa, is that we absolutely have to have a real debate about this. We welcome it. We can't sit here and fight at straw man and argue about proposals that were made for four and five years ago.

FN: Congressman Garamendi, what do you, what do you make of the fact that there is something bipartisan, or there was at one point, with Congressman Ryan and Senator Wyden, out there. Is that something you'd be willing to look at?

JG: Well, Congress, Senator Wyden has moved away from the proposal that actually came before the House of Representatives. I was the Insurance Commissioner of California for eight years and I can tell you once you begin to divide future beneficiaries from the existing beneficiaries, the existing program will fail and those -- that's an actuarial fact that will happen. And it is clear in the 2012 – as well as the 2011 – Romney/Ryan Republican budget – and Mr. Romney has bought into the Ryan budget – that it will terminate the guarantee of Medicare for future beneficiaries and, because of the nature of insurance, the existing beneficiaries will see an – and in media – an ever increasing increase in their share of the cost of Medicare. That's not my talk, that’s talk by every analysis that has been done of the issue. And so what you have here is a situation in which the Medicare guarantee, which has been available to every person who turns 65, that guarantee ends. Yes, they'll be given a voucher, a voucher that overtime and, initially and overtime, will be insufficient to pay for medical care. And let's understand, the population that's 65 and over is a very, is a population that has the highest health care cost. And so if you're given a voucher that doesn't keep pace with the cost as well as the incident of illnesses, then you're going to find a shifting of costs from the Medicare program to the individual as well this a situation which – (FN interupts) – that program will fail.

FN: Let me bring Congressman Mulvaney back into the conversation for quick response here, a final question to you. In our latest polling, when we asked who would do a better job of protecting Medicare, 45% said they went with the Obama/Biden team, 42% went with Romney/Ryan. So can the Romney/Ryan team turn around those numbers?

NM: Oh, sure. And I think you're starting to see those numbers get better as folks realize that a lot of what my colleague is telling you is designed to frighten seniors. There's only one program that protects the current seniors, which is the Republican program that, that the Obamacare actually impacts. If you're 77 years old Obamacare changes your Medicare program. If you're 77 years old, the Ryan program does not. The Ryan program is the only one that actually preserves Medicare as it currently exists as an option. If you have to function under Obamacare, current recipients will be impacted. And I think what you're seeing in the numbers is that folks are actually reacting to the facts. They are taking the time, especially seniors, to figure out who's telling the truth. And what you heard John talk about today is attacking an old plan. Only the Romney/Ryan plan protects Medicare as we know it today.

(cross talk)

FN: Congressman Mulvaney, Congressman Garamendi, unfortunately we're out of time. We got to leave it there. But we thank you both of you and hope you’ll come back soon.

JG: Thank you.

Originally posted to Central Valley Kossacks on Tue Sep 04, 2012 at 06:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Dream Menders.

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