Dems decry ‘dirty tricks’ by GOP, say memo calling critics ‘extremists’ a fake

Jon Ward Contributor
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Democrats on Friday furiously denounced a memo leaked by Republicans that purported to show them instructing members not to discuss details of the health care bill’s cost and labeling critics “extremists.”

“As they face Loss on [health care reform], Republican Dirty Tricks Emerge,” the Democratic National Committee trumpeted in an e-mail to reporters.

A senior Democratic aide told the Daily Caller that the memo, which appeared to be labeled from Majority Leader Steny Hoyer but whose “authorship” was unclear, was not authentic. A Democratic aide told Talking Points Memo that the memo “did not come out of a Democratic office.”

When pressed on where the memo came from, aides in the office of House Minority Leader John Boehner said they could not verify its authenticity. They indicated that it came to them from another Republican lawmaker’s office.

Michael Steel, the Boehner aide who sent the memo to reporters, argued that the memo’s source was not ultimately the most important issue, but rather that the memo accurately showed that Democrats are “low-balling the cost of health care by hundreds of billions of dollars.”

The memo said that Democratic leadership and the White House were going to pass, later this year, a permanent fix to the “Doc fix” provision. The “Doc fix” provision is an annual law Congress passes to prevent implementation of reduced payments to physicians under Medicare.

The “Doc fix” would between $200 billion and $350 billion this year. It was originally included in health care legislation last year but was taken out when Democrats realized it would push the cost of their bill above $1 trillion.

Republican lawmakers seized on this specific issue Friday in a late press conference.

“Hiding spending does not reduce spending,” said Rep. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Democrat and ranking member on the House Budget Committee.

Ryan called Democratic claims to be reducing the deficit by $138 billion over 10 years through the health bill a “shell game.” House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican, called it “trickery.”

“This bill is a budget Frankenstein. It is a house of cards. it is going to give us a huge deficit now and an even larger deficit in the future,” Ryan said.

Ryan also dismissed a question about the memo.

“Who cares about a memo? The point is the Speaker is telling us she’s going to do a doc fix, so that adds to the deficit,” he said.