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October 9th, 2012

Fifty-Seven Percent of Iowans Favor Major Medicare Reforms

By Craig Robinson

When Mitt Romney selected Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan to be his running mate back in August, political pundits and many in the media questioned Romney’s selection because of Ryan’s proposal to reform Medicare could be unnecessary baggage for the Republican ticket.

Republicans were ecstatic with the selection of Ryan, a young, articulate, and thoughtful reformer, to be Romney’s running mate.  Not only does his relative youth give Republicans a glimpse of the future, but his willingness to have serious discussions about entitlements is refreshing in modern politics.  Still, none can forget the liberal attack ad that portrayed Ryan pushing a wheelchair bound grandmother off a cliff.  Many speculated that with Ryan on the ticket, President Obama and the Democrats would make hay with Ryan’s Medicare proposal.

Medicare has been an issue in the campaign, but not like most of the talking heads expected.  The recent TIR-Voter/Consumer Research poll shows that the Medicare issue isn’t quite the silver bullet Democrats thought it would be, which might explain why some Republican congressional candidates are the ones who want to discuss the topic.

The TIR/VCR poll asked Iowans what position is closest to theirs on the issue of Medicare.  One option participants could choose was that Medicare costs are going up too fast and it will run out of money in the near future and major reforms are needed.  Another option was that Medicare is in good shape, only needs minor reforms to keep going, and that politicians are just trying to scare seniors.  Fifty-seven percent of respondents said that major reform is needed, while only 35 percent said that Medicare needed minor reforms.

The poll suggests that people are finally starting to recognize that the country must deal with Medicare.  Not only do 57 percent of Iowans recognize the need for major reforms of Medicare, but so do nearly half of all seniors.

The TIR/VCR poll showed 45 percent seniors age 65 and above said that major reforms are needed for Medicare.  An equal percentage, 45 percent, said minor changes are needed.  The support for major reform of Medicare increased as age decreased.  Fifty-seven percent of persons age 45 to 64 believed major reform is needed.  In the under 45-age group, the percentage that supported major reforms to Medicare jumped to 66 percent.

With a majority of Iowans and almost half of seniors supporting major reform of Medicare, two Republican congressional candidates in Iowa have used the Medicare issue in recent television ads.

Congressman Steve King’s most recent TV ad says that the only way to strengthen Medicare is to repeal Obamacare.  King then states that Obamacare cuts  $716 billion dollars from Medicare.  This ad is interesting because it allows King to attack the President’s government run healthcare program, while also communicating to seniors that he wants to strengthen Medicare, not end it, and not take money from it to pay for other programs.

The other Republican congressional candidate making Medicare an issue in his race is Ben Lange in Iowa’s 1st District.  Unlike King, Lange is a challenger who is using the $716 billion in Medicare cuts to criticize his opponent, Democrat Congressman Bruce Braley, who voted in favor of the cuts.

Lange’s ad, “Honor the Promise,” goes after Braley for being dishonest about his position on Medicare.  Lange uses his 62-year old father as an example in the ad.  Lange states, “My own father just turned 62. He’s depending on Social Security and Medicare and, like millions, he paid into the system and we must honor that commitment.”

Lange then goes on to say that he supports plans that will strengthen Medicare.  Lange promises, “no cuts in benefits, no tax increases, and any plan will be totally voluntary.”  Lange has effectively made himself the candidate that will protect Medicare, which has turned conventional wisdom from previous elections on its head.

It is remarkable that an issue that many thought would work against Republicans in the 2012 elections has become an issue that hurts Democrats.  The poll numbers suggest that Iowans are beginning to understand the seriousness of our nation’s debt crisis.  They also seem to realize that the only way to keep Medicare is to make necessary changes.  I don’t think anyone would have ever expected Republicans to have an upper hand on the issue of Medicare in the 2012 election, but that is exactly what seems to be happening.

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About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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