Kathy Hochul Spins Me on How Democrats Can Keep the Entitlement Issue

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 16 2011 1:37 PM

Kathy Hochul Spins Me on How Democrats Can Keep the Entitlement Issue

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Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

All week, I've been wondering if the Democratic loss in NY-9 proved that Democrats were losing entitlements as a wedge issue. If even the president wants to "go large" and cut entitlements back, isn't the attack defused? I wondered who could spin me on what austerity-era Democrats could still promise voters on entitlements. Why not Kathy Hochul, the Democrat who won NY-26 largely by clobbering her Republican opponent on the Ryan plan? I asked Hochul about this after a vote this week. Her spin:

"We need to cut the underlying costs of health care, which are making Medicare more expensive. Democrats are in agreement -- we talk about this all the time. We have to make sure that we get equity with respect to prescription drugs -- the drug prices under Medicare are obscenely high. Why are veterans at VA hospitals paying less for prescription drugs than people who are under Medicare Part D? That's an area we should go after. Medicare fraud is getting out of control -- just look at all the prosecutions on Medicare fraud. I think we should have Medicare cover home health care. Look at the savings we'd have if we covered home health care and tele-health services. Instead, people in rural areas have to go hospitals at the dead of the night. If we look at this holistically, we can cut the underlying costs."

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That's how Democrats can win? "That's what I'm saying. I don't want the Medicare beneficiares touched. They can't afford to have $7000 out of their pockets, as was proposed in the Ryan budget."

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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