Remember that $716 Billion?

Photograph by John Moore/Getty Images

Seniors attend a 'Medicare Monday' seminar at the Holly Creek retirement community in Centennial, Colorado.

It wasn’t that long ago that Republicans pilloried Democrats — on the campaign trail, over the airwaves, in countless news releases — for cutting $716 billion out of Medicare.

“The money you paid for your guaranteed health care is going to a massive new government program that’s not for you,” said one of Mitt Romney’s television ads. “The Romney-Ryan plan protects Medicare benefits for today’s seniors.”

The cuts, used by Democrats to offset the cost of the president’s health-care overhaul, mostly affected reimbursements to hospitals, nursing facilities and others providing services to Medicare beneficiaries.

It’s a history that some Democrats are gleefully recalling now that House Speaker John Boehner wants to raise Medicare’s retirement age, a proposal that could cut benefits by more than $100 billion.

“What were Republicans complaining about? That the president found too much savings in Medicare — $716 billion,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the top Democrat on the Budget committee. “In the space of four weeks, we’ve gone from Republicans complaining the president found too much in Medicare savings to complaining that it’s not enough.”

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel rejected the criticism, saying Republicans were objecting to Democrats cutting Medicare to help finance their “unsustainable new entitlement, Obama-care.”

“The complaint shows a — probably deliberate — misunderstanding,” Steel said.

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