Freshmen Republicans emerged from the House Wednesday to complain that Democrats are violating a pledge from President Obama not to demonize proposals tackling big problems such as Medicare, including the plan from Republican Paul Ryan.
Despite the President's pledge, Adam Kinsziger, R-Ill., said "a week after its passage... Democrats started what the Chicago Tribune referred to as 'Mediscare' tactics against Republicans."
And James Lankford, R-Okla., said "Washington's a great place to talk about the problems but as soon as someone actually proposes a solution, everyone attacks the person proposing solutions... That doesn’t solve the problem."
House Republicans want the president to condemn Democratic attacks, since they violate pledges he made last year when he spoke at their retreat in Baltimore.
"We're not going to be able to do anything about any of these entitlements," the president told Republicans, "if what we do is characterize whatever proposals are put out there as well, you know that's, the other party is being irresponsible. The other party is trying to hurt our senior citizens."
But Democratic political ads are attacking the Ryan plan in spite of the president's assurances. And Democratic lawmakers have paid little heed to the president's pledge either.
Democrat John Larson, D-Conn., described the Ryan plan as "nothing more than an assault on the social contract that we have with our people here in this country."
As far as Medicare is involved, the Ryan plan would pay private insurance premiums for seniors in hopes of creating competition, instead of having the government pay for every procedure, which it can no longer afford.
Ryan’s plan would dedicate more money to the poor and sick, but Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius argues it would force sick seniors to pay too much out of their own pockets, a point she made about cancer patients during recent testimony before the House.
"You're really left to scrape together charity care, go without care, die sooner, there aren't really a lot of options," Sebelius said.
And the Democratic leader in the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., followed up late Wednesday, characterizing the plan as "saying to granny, that would be me, go out there and fend for yourself with the insurance companies.”
A Democratic ad campaign ad pounced on the Ryan plan, showing the elderly doing odd jobs to make money to pay medical bills, with one senior using a walker to push a lawnmower as a teen looked on and said "you missed a spot."
Such attacks would appear to violate the president's assurances, prompting 42 House freshmen to send Obama a letter urging him to do something about it.
"[S]tand above partisanship, condemn the disingenuous attacks, and work with this Congress to reform entitlements....," the letter said.
If the debate stays at this level, the president himself may be vulnerable to attack because his health care plan, what critics call Obamacare, also puts tight limits on future Medicare spending.