A treatment for Mediscare?

posted at 9:15 am on May 28, 2011 by Karl

Tuesday’s special election in New York’s 26th district, where Democrat Kathy Hochul won in part on a classic Mediscare campaign, had Republicans (and the right in general) looking for ways to respond to similar attacks in the 2012 campaign. Karl Rove claims that Mediscare did not sway independents in NY-26 and urges the GOP to do intensive education and outreach on the House’s proposed Medicare reforms. I am all for an education campaign, although it probably would have been easier and more effective during the period from the midterm election through Rep. Paul Ryan’s unveiling of the House GOP budget, before Pres. Obama and the Democrats engaged on the issue.

Now, given the generally toxic polling for the House plan, the Wall Street Journal editorial board is likely correct in arguing the GOP needs to go on offense, both by attacking the Democratic plan to cut Medicare via political rationing and by linking Medicare to the larger issue of exploding debt and economic prosperity. The first point is essential to frame the debate as a choice between Republican reform and the consequences of Democratic denial of the problem. The second point, related to the first, does tend to mitigate opposition to reform. (David Brooks pines for a bipartisan “grand bargain” on entitlements and the budget, but Pres. Obama’s not-a-budget speech clearly announced his intent to reject the approach of the Simpson-Bowles fiscal commission and run for re-election on Mediscare and class warfare.)

Republicans may need to go further. People under attack, when they truly believe they are in the right, tend to believe that simply getting the facts out will solve the problem. However, Mediscare moves people by playing on their emotions. Indeed, the casual voter who is not a political junkie is likely more prone to emotional appeals. Accordingly, if the Dems are going to claim the GOP is harsh to seniors, the GOP ought to at least consider messages showing what the Dems’ approach will do to our children.

For example, consider this 1986 spot funded by W.R. Grace and directed by acclaimed director Ridley Scott. Perhaps the best part of this clip is the reminder that before the Internet, the establishment media cartel blocked airing it:

I like dystopian sci-fi as much or more than the next person, but this approach may be a bit much. The progressive ad showing the GOP literally pushing Grandma off a cliff is so heavy-handed that it may turn off voters in the mushy middle. The same may be true with this vintage ad.

However, a mere six years later, H. Ross Perot became the frontrunner for president (before collapsing under the weight of his paranoia) with a softer version of the same message:

Neither of these ads expressly address Medicare, but it should be a fairly simple matter to tie entitlement spending to the debt problem and the effect it has on our kids. Indeed, a recent web video from Heritage Action for America lands in the ballpark with a light touch:

The GOP and conservative independent expenditure groups ought to at least test versions this approach with focus groups. The Obama campaign may be backing off projections of a billion-dollar warchest for 2012, but they certainly do not plan on spending less than the $750 million mark set in 2008. Unless the economy suddenly improves dramatically, it is a fair bet Obama will be spending those hundreds of millions demonizing the GOP instead of running on his record. Republican candidates will need every effective response to Mediscare they can find.

This post was promoted from GreenRoom to HotAir.com.
To see the comments on the original post, look here.

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Start bringing the 16 inch guns to bear and “Fire! Fire! Fire for effect!” until the magazine it empty…

Khun Joe on May 28, 2011 at 9:19 AM

Just start listing all the many things that obamacare will do to Medicare if fully implemented. That should get everyone’s attention…

Gohawgs on May 28, 2011 at 9:24 AM

If we are broke, high unemployment is bad for gathering funds. A lot of people in the 62 year old plus bracket went on SS because they were unemployed. A growing economy solves incredibly many problems. Gubment interference with growth will need to be stopped.

seven on May 28, 2011 at 9:27 AM

That CBS clip about why networks won’t show the Grace ad should be in the MSM Hall of Shame. What a load of BS!

cartooner on May 28, 2011 at 9:27 AM

Misinformation, scare tactics are affective…
we need facts and truth:

here is Paul Ryan’s latest op/ed:

How Consumer Choice Can Save Health Care


djn on May 28, 2011 at 9:30 AM

There’s a stupid Kraft Macaroni and Cheese commercial where the Dad keeps sneaking Mac’N’Cheese off the kids plate.He rats on Dad to the school police officer and the SWAT team shows up that night while Dad is in the act.
How about the kid telling the cop that someone stole all his money and the cop asks how much. When the kid tells him, cut to close up of the cops eyes jumping open wide.
Then cut to a scene of the cops taking all the bankers and politicians out of a smokey room in cuffs.

Beto Ochoa on May 28, 2011 at 9:52 AM

The worst part of the Mac’N’Cheese commercial is kids are being taught to rat on their parents by schools. It’s meant to normalize the behavior. Like the stupid commercial where they keep yelling “Marcell!” and SWAT is busting down a door and tossing a grenade in the house.

Beto Ochoa on May 28, 2011 at 10:06 AM

Wait till Greece defaults and Europe melts down with the crisis spreading across the world including the US via loans, financial swaps and collateralized debt obligations. Then we will see the already huge negative numbers get even more negative.

From the always solid John Mauldin:


Viator on May 28, 2011 at 10:09 AM

Powerline is offering a $100,000 prize for anything that best creatively dramatizes the debt crisis.

In this age of viral video where anyone with a creative mind can put something together cheap, the RNC should do something similar for Mediscare, offer a prize.

commodore on May 28, 2011 at 10:51 AM

Talk about educating the public. There has been absolutely nothing, zip, nada information coming forth about how Ryan’s plan works. Hell it ain’t rocket science. Democrats cut billions from Medicare in Zero’s plan and Ryan’s changes nothing for those over 55. Those under 55 are going to hear from Obama “Sorry folks there ain’t nothing left for you guys but the taxes you gotta pay to keep those old folks up. Income redistribution and all that, you know.”……. Something has got to change, we just can’t pout.

Herb on May 28, 2011 at 10:55 AM

Why isn’t the GOP showing Paul Ryan’s spot on his Medicare plan? It should be in every market every day!

PattyJ on May 28, 2011 at 10:56 AM

“You left us with a debt of TWO TRILLION dollars”

HEHEHEHEHEHEHEHE snicker… if only 1986 could see us now!

I remember the discussions and how the left tried to blame Reagan for it all back then, it was the big media blitz du jour… but noooo, they don’t run ads that promote controverisal ideals… but Dan Rather would sit there every night and “report” on the “growing” deficit and wonder why Reagan wasn’t doing anything about it.

Skywise on May 28, 2011 at 10:59 AM

Who needs to listen to Karl Rove – a hired for money croney who dares to play kingmaker and manipulate our free election with his pontificating from Caesar’s Palace. I value my freedom and my judgment far more than his. We just don’t see America’s needs nor the ill-mannered way you meet them the same. He’s not even fit to be Sarah Palin’s gun bearer – never mind her chief roly-poly executioner. He gets his vote and I’ll cancel it out with mine.

He just represents the real fear that the Washington right has of the citizens actually being in charge of its leaders.

The GOP establishment and these low-character folks have been jerking us around for decades. No More – Go Sarah!

Don L on May 28, 2011 at 11:18 AM

…the RNC should do something similar for Mediscare, offer a prize.

commodore on May 28, 2011 at 10:51 AM

Unless maybe the GOP wants it that way – to be in charge of 1/7th more of the economy too? Maybe if they leave it in, they can forever keep their power and our votes by crying we’re on your side, and pretending to fight on our behalf – like the Dems always do to the black community. The GOP jerks around the pro-life crowd the same way and fails to even raise a tsk, tsk, to the baby killers on the left.

The fact is, that Obama’s supposed ineptness is a thimble full compared to the GOP ‘s poor willingness and embarassing skills at educating and fighting back. My old dog is a better protector of what’s mine then the entire GOP and it’s long gone to hound heaven.

Don L on May 28, 2011 at 11:31 AM

Need an ad?

Grandma lying in bed calling, calling, calling for help that will not come.
VOICE OVER: “This is the Democrat’s Medicare plan. The do-nothing Democrats plan is to bankrupt Medicare in the next eight years. This is their plan.”
[Grandma continues calling throughout…]

ss396 on May 28, 2011 at 11:33 AM

The problem is not education but in the voter. The left has proven time and time again that simple minded slogans pretending to be serious arguments works…’It was all about sex’ comes to mind. Conservatives always try to respond with ‘education’ but a bumper sticker slogan trumps ‘education’ every time. We need to get into the simple minded slogan and lying political commercial game far more effectively. If the left runs adds about granny being thrown off the cliff, we need to respond with adds showing granny landing on a fire net held up by conservatives with grannie screaming loudly that some lying leftist just pushed her off the cliff and now plans to raid her bank balance.

We used to be able to do this…remember ‘where’s the beef’?

JIMV on May 28, 2011 at 12:00 PM

ss396 on May 28, 2011 at 11:33 AM

It’s happening now in the UK. Old folks are dying of thirst in hospitals, with doctors forced to PRESCRIBE water to keep them alive. We don;t have to imagine what could happen, it’s going on already.

iurockhead on May 28, 2011 at 12:10 PM

If I worked for the RNC, here is my commerical.

[Fade from black]

[15 black-robed men, wearing “jason” masks sitting on a semi-circular raised dais]

[Elderly, white haired, granny in a wheel chair before the panel]

Panel Chairman: “Mrs Smith. We, the members of the Obamacare health care rationing panel, have carefully reviewed your case. We have reviewed your political party affiliation, your participation in tea party rallies, and lastly, your current age and health situation.”

“It is the finding of the Obamacare health care rationing panel that health care funds would be better spent elsewhere.”

“Therefore, your application for dialysis is permanently denied”

Granny: “But you’re sentencing me to death.”

Panel Chairman: “No we are simply reallocating the funds elsewhere. What happens to you beyond that is not our responsibility or concern.”

[Fade to black, background music (theme from Soylent Green) swells]

georgej on May 28, 2011 at 1:07 PM

That is Exactly what we need do…and also we need to use a LOT of humor. As long as we pretend we can ‘educate’ voters who find Oprah deep, we will lose this fight. Our message needs to be simple, pointed, and funny.

JIMV on May 28, 2011 at 1:28 PM

My commercial message would be short and sweet:

“Congressman Paul Ryan has submitted a plan to save Medicare. The Democrats and President Obama, haven’t. Instead, they’ve chosen to scare you about a plan that you honestly don’t know what’s in it. This is too important to have this type of debate, we need an honest debate about the issues. Write to the Democrats and President Obama and ask them, “Where is your plan?” – Sponsored by Citizens Against the Lies about Paul Ryan’s Plan

Vote for Sarah Palin and only be called a racist one more time.

bflat879 on May 28, 2011 at 2:03 PM

What’s needed is a counter attack, a counter-narrative. One that reframes the question. Anyone care to help me write it? It begins with passengers preparing for a journey, declaring that at long last they are getting what they paid for. Then a rumor breaks out–someone wants to cancel the trip, someone wants to decommission the ship. A riot is imminent, until a well-dressed captain speaks up: “The ship is fine! Everything is fine!” “The ship is NOT fine! She’s in danger of sinking!” “You’ve been saying that for years,” coos the captain, who is now beginning to sprout long ears. The young, Paul-Ryan-ish agitator is thrown overboard, to the great approval of the passengers. The engines start, the ship’s whistle sounds, and we cut to the pilothouse where the captain is surrounded by cigar-chomping, whiskey-drinking caricatures of Frank, Dodd, Waters (no cigar), and other famous Dems wearing light blue velvet tuxedos. “Good work. In another minute, he’d have told them what we spent all their money on.” Cut to quarter view of the USS Medicare, billowing ugly, low-hanging black smoke, then to side view as the ship glides past the ‘agitator’, with great spouts of water pumping out just below the gunwales, which are just above the waterline. Railings are broken, lifeboats missing, paint is flaking off huge rusty patches on the hull, etc. Shift to three-quarter aft view; she is steaming into a tropical storm. (Dem voice continues): “Heh-heh. Not on the ship. (Smugly) Not on this ship.”

njcommuter on May 28, 2011 at 3:00 PM

Oh … and we should also take Bill Clinton’s line: We want to MEND it, not END it.

njcommuter on May 28, 2011 at 3:01 PM

The simplest is a pan of a hospital delivery room where the baby comes with an ATM sign… and shackles. That is how we are paying for the debt we incur.

ajacksonian on May 28, 2011 at 3:20 PM

I agree with a lot of this approach, I would add this fpr the srong emotional impact: Democrats are lying to you and think you are a rube/sucker/bitch, depending on audience demographic. Americans really, really hate being played.

motionview on May 28, 2011 at 7:07 PM


Grandma: (gasping for air) Sonny, can you see what’s holding up my medicine? …I’m not going to last much longer without it.

Grandson, a boy 10-12 years old, leaves the room briefly, then leans his head in from the doorway:

Grandson: Grandma, the Committee wants to know how you voted in the last election before they decide!

Ominous music with heavy male voice-over: Obamacare: politicians decide who lives and who dies.

landlines on May 28, 2011 at 8:30 PM

I was 5 or 6 years old when that Perot ad aired.

I’ll be 25 in September. Lord to think that I am/was one of the “children” that ad was describing.

SgtSVJones on May 29, 2011 at 1:16 AM

I thought I would state this so even the Liberals in Washington would understand.

Understand now????

old war horse on May 29, 2011 at 3:32 PM

A more accurate portrayal would be Grandma pushing her grandkids over a cliff.

disa on May 30, 2011 at 9:15 AM