By Tom Curry National affairs writer
updated 9/14/2009 10:27:15 AM ET 2009-09-14T14:27:15

Claim: For decades, Republicans have tried to kill or shrink the Medicare program.

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The Democratic National Committee is running an ad assailing Republicans for allegedly trying for years to kill or defund the Medicare program for Americans age 65 and over. The Democrats contend that since the Republicans have always hated Medicare, the GOP is now acting in bad faith when it claims that the Democrats’ health reform will endanger Americans' Medicare benefits.

Fact or fiction?
A little of both.

When Medicare was created in 1965, more Republicans voted against it than voted for it. In the House, 73 Republicans voted 'no' and 65 voted 'yes.' In the Senate, 14 GOP senators voted against Medicare, 13 voted for it. In 1995, the GOP-controlled House voted to cut $270 billion from future Medicare spending and tried to nudge seniors into privately run, but federally- funded insurance programs. "Philosophically these Republicans don't believe in Medicare and they're determined to find a way to destroy it," said President Clinton’s spokesman Mike McCurry. But in 2003, it was Republican President George W. Bush who pushed for and signed into law the biggest Medicare expansion since 1965 with a prescription drug benefit. Most Republicans voted for it.

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