Obama, Democrats drag ‘GOP will kill Medicare’ lie out of mothballs
posted at 11:39 am on July 25, 2012 by Howard Portnoy
On a sweep through southern Florida last week, the president told residents of a retirement community that Mitt Romney’s policy on taxes would “end Medicare as we know it to help pay for his tax cuts for the wealthiest.” So much for abjuring the use of scare tactics to win an election.
In fairness, the president’s message was nothing new. Claims that the GOP would end Medicare and/or Social Security are a staple of Democratic politicking. The Democrats mounted an all-out assault on the GOP in 2011 after Rep. Paul Ryan introduced H.R. 6110, aka “Roadmap for America’s Future Act of 2008.” The campaign, which famously included a video of a Ryan lookalike pushing a white-haired woman in a wheelchair over a cliff, was so pernicious that the fact-checking website PolitiFact branded it as the “Lie of the Year 2011.”
Nor is the president alone in his current efforts to revive this canard. The House Majority PAC, funded by SEIU and AFSCME, is investing heavily in perpetuating this myth in an Iowa congressional contest. The super PAC has released ads accusing Republican Rep. Tom Latham, who voted for the Ryan plan, of supporting an increase in Medicare costs of $6,400. But as FactCheck.org reports:
The $6,400 figure is a fair interpretation of what a Congressional Budget Office report projected—for somebody turning age 65 in the year 2022 or later. Under the Republican plan, anyone age 55 or older would not have been affected at all, save for the repeal of a sweetened prescription-drug benefit contained in the new health care law.
Democrats and the president are hardly in a position to cast stones in any case. Obamacare, which as far as they are concerned is a done deal, inflicts far more harm on “Medicare as we know it” than the Ryan plan. In its current form, the health care law siphons off $500 billion in savings from Medicare over the next ten years to pay for other programs created by the law. Defenders of the law will insist it has built-in offsetting provisions, such as paying hospitals less when patients are quickly re-admitted after being discharged. It’s hard to see how they would package this type of cost-cutting measure in a form that makes it palatable to seniors.
When all is said and done—when the elimination of the prescription drug “donut hole” and government-run efforts to improve efficiency and delivery of care are factored—people on Medicare will be worse off than enrollees in Medicaid.
It would be interesting to hear the president’s reaction to the charge that if Medicare has an executioner, he is it.
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