Did you like the Newt Gingrich/Piers Morgan bout earlier today? That was just the undercard. John Sununu appeared on CNN’s Starting Point this morning with Soledad O’Brien and fought the main bout in the center(-left) ring. Where Morgan allowed Gingrich to have his say, O’Brien and Sununu repeatedly interrupted each other with charges of talking-points reliance, trading haymakers all fight long.
Who won? Mediaite scores it a draw for everyone:
“I have the Congressional Budget Office Budget report right here,” Sununu said, waving it on camera. “Go read page 13 and 14.”
“I can tell you what it says, yes,” said O’Brien. “It cuts a reduction in the expected rate of growth, which you know. Not cutting benefits to the elderly. Benefits will be improved. The focus is on hospitals. The focus is on health insurance.”
“He gutted the program by $711 million [sic],” said Sununu of Obama. “And the fact is he reduces services to Medicare beneficiaries currently on the package. What the difference is, is that Romney says no impact to anybody 55 or over. It is clear in here that the reduction in services start on January 1, 2013 and Obama stole that money to put it into programs under Obamacare…”
“The hospitals agreed to that,” O’Brien countered. “The drug providers agreed to that because their theory is that what they’re going to be able to do is make up by the number of people who come into the system. It doesn’t reduce or cut the benefits. Right….”
“Soledad, stop this!” said Sununu. “All you’re doing is mimicking the stuff that comes out of the White House and gets repeated on the Democratic blog boards out there….”
“I’m telling you what FactCheck.com tells you,” she insisted. “I’m telling you what the CBO tells you. I’m telling you what CNN’s independent analysis does.”
“Put an Obama bumper sticker on your forehead when you do this,” Sununu shot back.
Sununu meant to say $711 billion, of course. In ObamaCare, $711 million is just a rounding error. Both of the combatants flashed paper on screen while talking, although in O’Brien’s case, that may not mean much. The reduction — and it is a reduction — of the $700+ billion comes from Medicare Advantage, the successful public/private partnership that allowed seniors a chance to access increased benefits and more comprehensive coverage in a federally-managed exchange. Taking that option from seniors and the disabled means less coverage for the 25% of Medicare recipients who opted into it, and the money gets shifted to pay for part of the Medicaid expansion and the subsidies for people buying health insurance in the exact same kind of exchanges that Democrats found so objectionable in Medicare.
Maybe O’Brien should pay a little more attention to Barack Obama’s own words. The GOP reminds us that in November 2009, Obama not only proudly owned those cuts to Medicare, he threatened to veto any attempt to reverse them:
Claiming that the $700 billion isn’t a reduction for current Medicare recipients is just nonsense. But it is a prerequisite to join Mantra Club. And now it seems clear that Romney/Ryan surrogates intend to challenge media figures on bias when they try to use Democratic talking points on the Ryan plan in interviews this week, which is good news indeed.