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Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer
Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer (Joshua Roberts/REUTERS)

If Rep. Steny Hoyer really wants to take us down a path to austerity by cutting Social Security and Medicare, thank goodness he's going to have to get past Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi first.

She spoke with Greg Sargent on Friday, and had strong words for efforts, namely by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) to move Medicare to a voucher program, arguing that however they want to spin it, it's still going to do irreparable damage to the program.

Pelosi [argued] that Ryan-Wyden still would ultimately end Medicare as we know it, and that this is a case Dems can take to the American people.

“What they’re trying to do is put lipstick on a pig—that would be Ryan—and call it Monique—that would be Wyden,” Pelosi said. “But it’s still a pig.”

The Ryan-Wyden plan would offer seniors quasi-vouchers to pay for private health insurance but would also preserve traditional Medicare as an option. Pelosi argued that this still ensures that Medicare will “wither on the vine,” adding: “The Republican plan would break the Medicare guarantee.”

Pelosi's message couldn't be stronger, or a better repudiation of Hoyer (who is probably launching his "grand bargain" campaign in hopes of being in a position to challenge Pelosi for the speakership should Democrats regain the House). Pelosi's got the messaging track record here, as Sargent points out. She "helped engineer the defeat of George W. Bush’s Social Security plan by insisting that Dems not offer a plan of their own. Speaking about the Dem Medicare message, she advised: 'Keep it simple.'" It worked to derail the privatization of Social Security, and helped Democrats in the 2006 election. It'll work now, if the Steny Hoyers and Ron Wydens of the party don't get in the way.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Fri Mar 02, 2012 at 02:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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