Free Lance-Star reporter Chelyen Davis covers Virginia government.
Kaine ad hits Allen on Medicare, Social Security
If it’s a new day, it must be a new ad in the Virginia Senate race.
This time it’s Democrat Tim Kaine’s turn, launching an ad this morning that features senior citizens criticizing Republican George Allen for support for a bill that would partially privatize Social Security, and claiming he voted to cut Medicare funding in his last term as senator.
The ad says that Allen ”now favors a plan that would increase costs for seniors and the middle class by thousands of dollars a year.” That claim stems from Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan, which includes a proposal to convert Medicaid to a block-grant program to states. Allen has not endorsed all aspects of Ryan’s budget, but does favor making Medicaid a block-grant program with a lot more state control.
On his website, Allen says this about Medicaid:
“Medicaid is a shared program, but federal mandates frustrate State efforts to control costs, as in the case of Virginia being forced to undo $460 million in planned savings. Transforming Medicaid into a block grant run by the State could save approximately $95 billion a year while delivering more effective care.”
Democrats say shifting Medicaid to the states saves money only for the federal government, not state governments, and would decimate a reliable safety-net for the elderly.
Allen is also on record saying that while he thinks Medicare should be preserved as it is for current retirees and those close to retirement, he would favor some sort of partly-private system for future retirees.
From his website, Allen says of Medicare: “Provide seniors with personal control, not government control, over health care choices. Apply the tested principles of individual responsibility, competition and choice to improve quality and reduce costs for the Medicare program.”
His position on Social Security is similar; Allen has said he doesn’t want to change the program for current beneficiaries or those close to retirement, but that changes are needed, like raising the retirement age and income adjustments for the wealthy, and that he could support a voluntary private retirement savings plan as a supplement to Social Security.
Kaine said in a statement that he supports ideas to reduce costs for safety-net programs — the one he most frequently cites is a proposal to let Medicare negotiate drug prices — but not restructuring those programs.
“I will oppose efforts to privatize these programs, which would shift costs onto the backs of seniors and create an undue burden for older Virginians,” Kaine said.
You can see the Kaine ad here.
The Allen campaign called Kaine’s ad a “negative, misleading attack ad as part of a campaign to frighten seniors into voting for him.”
As governor, the Allen campaign said, Allen engineered an income tax deduction for seniors. The campaign also repeated a general Republican claim about Democrats, that those who support President Barack Obama’s health care law favor a $700 billion cut to Medicare. As various fact-checking organizations have pointed out, the health care law does not cut current Medicare spending, but instead reduces future Medicare spending increases.
“While George Allen has a proven record of working with others to strengthen Social Security and expand Medicare coverage, Tim Kaine thinks he can back seniors into his corner with enough frightening claims about their benefits,” said Allen spokeswoman Emily Davis.