Think Progress reports that Representative Joe Heck (R-NV3) has a new way to discourage constituents from communicating his position that Medicare (as we know it) should be eliminated and replaced with a voucher system, and to prevent challenges by constituents from being disseminated: “No Recording Devices Please” signs have gone up at his town hall meetings. [see also LVRJ]
House Republicans have resorted to a variety of strategies to deal with constituents upset that the Ryan Budget would replace Medicare with a voucher plan (they prefer the euphemism “premium support”) for those under 55 years of age.
#1. The Change the Subject Strategy
This maneuver was attempted by Representative Anne Marie Buerkle (R-NY) who when challenged on her support for the Ryan proposal, side-stepped the question and hauled out the long discredited and thoroughly debunked myth of the Death Panels. [TP] In fact, the Death Panel motif earned Politifact’s Lie of The Year.
#2. The Say It Ain’t So Strategy
The Say It Ain’t So Strategy calls for denying the obvious. Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) used this technique, saying to constituents that the Republican measure would not “end Medicare,” it would be a “new beginning.” [TP] Indeed it would be, for those Americans 55 and under there would be no Medicare program as currently constituted, it would be replaced by a voucher plan in which the elderly could use the voucher toward the purchase of private health care insurance — should they be able to find any affordable plans on the market.
#3. The Save Medicare By Killing It Strategy
Rep. Ben Quayle (R-AZ) tried this one at one of his Town Hall sessions. The argument harkens back to Vietnam Era semantics, and sets forth the contention that since Medicare “is going bankrupt” the only way to save it is to kill it off and replace it with the voucher plan. Those of a certain age will recall we once “destroyed villages in order to save them.” [FxPh]
Rep. Jaime Herrera Buetler (R-WA) tried this ploy in her town meeting, and was met with open skepticism. [Colu]
Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) trotted out a similar script, with a predictable response from his disbelieving audience. [WYNC]
#4. The Invent Something Strategy
Rep. Allen West (R-FL) has attempted this one. [WPBF] His reply to constituents was “If you support Medicare, you can kiss the United States good-bye.” [TP] Because, one might presume, Medicare will attack the nation? A variation on this theme was tested by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) who likened the Medicare program to welfare. [TP]
#5. The No’See’Um Strategy
This is evidently the strategy of choice for Representative Heck (R-NV3), and Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) — in case some member of the audience challenges the Party Line, or asks questions which make the incumbent uncomfortable — prevent anyone from recording the moment. This strategy brings with it the added benefit of preventing a public record of the event rendering it much easier for a politician to deny remarks in future constituent meetings or with members of the press. [TP]