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Medicare: Republicans voice resolve as they prepare to face constituents

House Republicans, heading home for a recess days after a Democrat won a special election in New York, say they're ready to explain their stance on Medicare reform to voters.

By Staff writer / May 26, 2011

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, accompanied by, from left, Rep. Lamar Smith (R) of Texas, and Rep. Fred Upton (R) of Mich., gestures during his weekly news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Thursday, May 26.

Harry Hamburg/AP

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Washington

House Republicans are sharpening their message – but not backing down – after a surprise drubbing in a New York special election in which the Democratic victor targeted their plans to overhaul Medicare.

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One reason the party is not running scared is that 2012 elections are more than a year away. Moreover, the 87-member GOP freshmen class campaigned on making bold, tough choices to get the nation’s fiscal house in order. Taking hits was to be expected, GOP lawmakers said in interviews after Tuesday’s election in New York’s 26th congressional district.

“Medicare as we know it is only going to be around for nine years – we’re saving it for future generations,” says freshman Rep. Jon Runyan (R) of New Jersey, a former NFL offensive lineman, who is heading home for a town meeting where the issue is sure to come up next week.

“I’ve been answering questions about this plan every day,” he adds. “You’ve got to slow it down and explain it to them. You’ve got to drive the message home: If you say it to the point that you are sick of it, you’re almost there.”

The message, according to House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, comes down to three facts: “The only plan out there to preserve and protect Medicare for current and future retirees is the plan that we’ve put forward,” he said at a press briefing on Thursday.

“Fact number two: The only people in Washington, D.C., who have voted to cut Medicare have been the Democrats when they cut $500 billion out of Medicare during ‘Obamacare.’ The third fact: The Democrats’ plan is to do nothing,” he added.

Democrats' ads target supporters of GOP budget

House Democrats have been running ads against Republicans who backed the 2012 House budget plan drafted by Rep. Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin since the April 15 vote. (All but four House Republicans voted for the GOP plan, which converted Medicare to subsidies for private insurance.) Democrats enjoyed the support of seniors and independent voters in the 2006 and 2008 elections, but lost their votes, along with their majority, in 2010.

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