Rep. Guinta's Shifting Narrative On Entitlements

April 20, 2011 11:55 am ET — Walid Zafar

Frank Guinta

Opponents of the slash-and-burn Republican budget have pointed out that the radical GOP-endorsed legislation effectively privatizes Medicare, guts Medicaid and food stamps, and reopens the Medicare donut hole while cutting taxes for the very wealthy. But Rep. Frank Guinta (R-NH) thinks people are overreacting. "I think they are nothing more than Democratic talking points and scare tactics," he says, telling the Union Leader that the GOP proposal is actually a way to protect these vital programs.

Guinta, interviewed Monday following a visit to the Hanover Hill Health Care Center in Manchester, said he's heard "all the criticisms, and I think they are nothing more than Democratic talking points and scare tactics.

"My sense is that this country wants to have an honest discussion about the drivers of our debt and deficit and wants us to propose ideas and solutions to preserve and protect these entitlements," said the freshman lawmaker and former Manchester mayor.

Guinta doesn't like the scare tactics, maintaining that slashing social safety net programs — as the Path to Prosperity does — is the only way to "protect these entitlements." During his campaign for Congress, however, Guinta attacked his Democratic opponent (via a made-up talking point) for supposedly doing just that, calling for Social Security and Medicare reform that does not cut benefits.

The only way to ensure Social Security's future is to cut federal spending, so we can maintain the commitments we've made to our nation's seniors. I believe we need a solution to preserve Social Security which does not privatize the system, does not raise taxes, and does not cut existing benefits. If Carol Shea-Porter is so concerned about our seniors, why did she vote for ObamaCare which cuts half a trillion dollars in Medicare benefits for seniors?

But Guinta isn't being serious or honest about his call to maintain the safety net as-is. Several weeks prior to attacking his opponent for allegedly jeopardizing the fiscal health of Social Security, Guinta said that he wanted the program privatized in such a way that his children wouldn't ever know what Social Security was:

We have to honor the obligations that have been made to those who are reliant on the federal government — older generations. But future generations should seek different private sector solutions and have personal responsibility start to lead the way. My kids are 6 and 5. They shouldn't know what Social Security is!

Guinta can't seem to decide what saving the system entails — whether it's cutting benefits in order to preserve the framework of the programs, saving the framework and refusing to cut benefits, or scrapping the safety net in favor privatization entirely.