Hoyer Rails Against Democratic Medicare Bill

Posted September 24, 2009 at 2:00pm

Updated: 5:28 p.m.

Here’s something you don’t see every day — House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) torching a Democratic bill on the floor that ends up passing on a 406-18 vote.

Hoyer on Thursday ripped into a bill sponsored by Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.) that prevented an increase in Medicare Part B premiums for millions of wealthier seniors next year at a cost of $2.8 billion.

Hoyer, one of just five Democrats to vote against the bill, said wealthier seniors should not have been spared the premium increase. Seniors with income under $85,000 and couples under $170,000 are already spared the premium increase under current law, Hoyer said.

“I don’t know how many of you go to sleep at night worried about whether Ross Perot can pay his premium, but this will freeze Ross Perot’s basic premium from going up,— Hoyer said. “The issue is, at a time of stress, of fiscal challenge, do we say to Ross Perot, we feel your pain?—

Hoyer said the nation needed to get a handle on entitlement spending.

“At some point in time, my friends, we have to buck up our courage and our judgment and say, if we take care of everybody, we won’t be able to take care of those who need us most,— Hoyer said.

The No. 2 House Democrat’s unusual missive came despite a flurry of press releases from committee chairmen and other top Democrats boasting they had protected seniors from paying higher premiums when their Social Security payments won’t be getting a cost-of-living increase.

And the power of the seniors was enough to get overwhelming support from both sides of the aisle.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) both voted for the bill, although Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) voted against.

Hoyer’s decision to rip the bill, sponsored by a vulnerable Democratic freshman, didn’t sit well with everybody.

“It was politically tone-deaf to try to undermine a wildly popular bipartisan bill that helps seniors,— said a Democratic aide.