May 31, 2011 11:22 am ET - by Matt Finkelstein
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) was one of the first high-profile Republicans to back away from House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's (R-WI) controversial "Path to Prosperity." Barely two weeks after the House passed the plan on a partisan vote with four Republican defectors, Bachmann attached "asterisks" to her support because she was "concerned about shifting the cost burden to seniors."
However, the President of the United States cannot apply asterisks to his or her signature on a given piece of legislation. Today, ABC's George Stephanopoulos asked Bachmann, who is expected to announce her presidential candidacy in June, whether or not she would sign the House-passed bill. Bachmann dodged twice, misrepresenting her previous statements in the process, before finally saying she would sign "some version" of the GOP budget plan.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You voted for it, but now say that support comes with an asterisk. So would President Bachmann sign the bill that Congresswoman Bachmann voted for?
BACHMANN: Well, I certainly did support the bill that Paul Ryan put forward. The asterisk is dealing with this: Paul Ryan is exactly right, we have to make Medicare solvent. Right now we know it's going into insolvency. The asterisk is that people don't recognize that this is about people who are 55 and under. I don't want a 78-year-old woman to think that Medicare is going to be pulled out from under her, because it won't. It's the 55 and under plan. And so the reforms in Medicare will affect people 55 and under, that's a very important piece.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Oh, OK. But that is Congressman Ryan's plan. So you would sign, if you were president, you would sign the congressman's plan into law?
BACHMANN: Well, the other portion that I think is very important is in the middle of dealing with all insurance and numbers, we can't forget humanity. And what I would want to focus on, George, are cures. Cures for Alzheimer's, cures for diabetes, that occur in senior citizens. And I think just like polio, when we're able to see polio successfully eradicated from the United States, that's what i also want to focus on are cures, particularly as we have an increasing senior population.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I understand that. But does that mean that you would sign the bill or not?
BACHMANN: Well, I think some version of this bill because Paul is right. We have to sustain Medicare. We can't let it just go away for senior citizens, and that's exactly what he's trying to do. I agree with what Paul is trying to do.
If the only reason for her "asterisk" is that "people don't understand" how the Medicare overhaul works, then why wouldn't Bachmann sign the version of the plan that already passed? Indeed, public confusion is not the problem. The Republican budget not only would make life much more expensive for future retirees, it would negatively affect current Medicare recipients as well. Bachmann rarely gets her facts straight, but she was on the right track last month when she worried about increasing the financial burden on seniors.
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