As part of his effort to separate himself from congressional Republicans, Brendan Doherty held a news conference outside Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket this morning. He offered what his campaign calls, via news release, an “ironclad pledge”:
“As Americans, we made a social contract with our senior citizens. These are men and women who worked hard and followed the rules. They deserve our respect and support and as I have stated time and again, when I go to Washington, I will continue to stand up for them as I have throughout my career in public service,” began Doherty. “Allow me to state my position as clearly and directly as possible,” Doherty continued, “I will work in Congress to maintain the Social Security and Medicare programs in their current form and will reject efforts to cut benefits for our seniors.”
The RI Democratic Party says Doherty’s pledge is “an empty one, given that leaders in his party have been attempting to undermine these programs for years.”
In an interview, Doherty responds by saying he’s more likely to influence congressional Republicans than his opponent:
“If there are Republicans who feel as though as we should privatize Social Security and Medicare, those are people I should be lobbying on that side of the aisle. David Cicilline has no shot of doing that from where he sits.”
Doherty says Medicare and Social Security rank with jobs and the economy as the top issues in the CD1 race. Cicilline, who took part in a md-day telephone town hall on the issue with Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen, appears to feel the same way.
Meanwhile, the New York Times reported recently on the shifting presidential politics of Medicare:
The latest New York Times/CBS News poll, conducted over the last week, found that Mr. Obama held an advantage over Mr. Romney on the question of who would do a better job of handling Medicare. That is consistent with other recent polls and is a shift from just last month, before the parties’ national conventions, when the two men were statistically tied on the issue.
At the heart of the conflict is the proposal backed by Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan to change the way Medicare works in an effort to drive down health care costs and keep the program solvent as the population ages. Under their plan, retirees would get a fixed annual payment from the government that they could use to buy traditional Medicare coverage or a private health insurance policy. Supporters say the change would hold expenses down by introducing more competition into the system.