The political rhetoric is heating up on the Medicare Rx plan as the May 15 sign-up date looms.
Democratic leaders plan a large rally-style event this afternoon to call on the administration to extend the deadline, but Republicans appeared on camera this morning to deliver some pre-emptive salvos. To say that they oppose an extension would be an understatement.
"It's absolute sheer hypocrisy," says Rep. Bill Thomas of the Democratic call. "They take the law of the land and try to create doubt and confusion...and then complain that we don't extend the deadline."
"In five days seniors and people with disabilities face a lifetime 7% Bush prescription drug plan tax," countered House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of the penalty for those who don't make the Monday deadline. A Pelosi spokeswoman adds that Democrats have had "more than 100" town hall meetings with constituents" about the plan.
But Republicans accuse Dems of "trashing" the plan instead of trying to help constituents understand it and sign up. However, they claim that even given this, sign-up levels are reaching historic levels for comparable government programs, and that seniors are saving hundreds, and even thousands of dollars.
"After 6 months of scaring seniors and discouraging them from signing up, they have the personal gall to call for an extension of the deadline," said a worked-up Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-CT).
The Democratic rally begins at 1pm EDT.