60 Plus Association: “Ron Barber: Washington Insider”

Trying to paint him as a “Washington insider,” the 60 Plus Association attacks Rep. Ron Barber (D-AZ), who won a special election this year to replace injured Rep. Gabrielle Giffords after the Tucson shooting. The ad takes issue with a raise Barber received as Giffords’ district director, even though his salary wasn’t uniquely high among district directors for Arizona’s House delegation, and with Barber’s support for the Affordable Care Act, even though repealing the law would have negative consequences for millions of people. Barber is no D.C. insider, however; prior to working for Giffords, he spent 30 years working for a state agency that helped Arizonans with developmental disabilities become independent and running a small business with his wife.

“Washington Insider?” Before Replacing Injured Giffords In 2012, Barber Had Little Political Background

Barber Was Rep. Gabby Giffords’ District Director, And Was Shot During Tucson Attack. From the New York Times: “When Gabrielle Giffords began her first run for Congress in 2005, Ron Barber retired from his job and volunteered to help her. When she took office, Mr. Barber immediately signed on as her district director, hiring local staff members and arranging her events back home. And when Ms. Giffords was shot in January 2011, Mr. Barber was just a few feet away. A bullet struck him near his groin, and another hit his cheek, exiting through his neck.” [New York Times, 3/9/12]

With Giffords’ Support, Barber Ran To Replace His Former Boss After She Had To Retire Following Shooting. From the Washington Post: “Democrat Ron Barber, a former aide to Gabrielle Giffords who was injured in the shooting that nearly took the ex-Arizona congresswoman’s life, won the special election to replace her on Tuesday. […] Giffords survived an assassination attempt in January 2011 and resigned her seat in Congress earlier this year to focus on her recovery. She supported Barber and campaigned on his behalf, but she played only a small role in the battle for a conservative-leaning southeastern Arizona district.” [Washington Post, 6/13/12]

Prior To Working For Giffords, Barber Had Been A Small Business Owner And Spent 30 Years Working For Arizona Division of Developmental Disabilities. From ABC News: “An Arizona resident for most of his life, the former small-business owner, 66, has two daughters and four grandchildren. He and wife Nancy owned and operated a business called Toy Traders-Stork’s Nest Inc. for 22 years, according to his campaign website. Barber also worked for 30 years as a director for the Arizona Division of Developmental Disabilities, an arm of the Arizona Department of Economic Securities that helps ‘eligible individuals with developmental disabilities achieve self-sufficiency and independence,’ according to its webpage. […] Throughout the course of the campaign, Republicans tried to brand Barber as a rubber stamp for President Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. […] But with no political background to speak of, it was, and continues to be, hard to tie Barber down to any particular agenda.” [ABC News, 6/13/12]

Barber’s Raise Came One Year Into New Position And Was In Line With Comparable Positions’ Salaries

Barber Got A Pay Raise One Year Into Position As Giffords’ District Director. According to Barber’s campaign biography, he was named Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ district director in 2007. Data from LegiStorm indicate that Barber’s salary increased at the beginning of 2008. [RonBarberForCongress.com, accessed 10/19/12; LegiStorm.com, accessed 10/19/12]

Barber’s Salary Was Not Uniquely High. According to LegiStorm, Barber’s pay increased to $99,833.30 in 2008. In that same year, Arizona Rep. Harry Mitchell’s district director, Alexis Tameron, made $108,499.96, while Arizona Rep. Ed Pastor’s district director, Elise de la Vara, made $99,547.92. The Arizona Republic also reports that “A few Arizona congressional district directors in recent years received raises of up to roughly 30 percent and earned as much as $132,000 yearly.” [LegiStorm.com, accessed 10/19/12; LegiStorm.com, accessed 10/19/12; LegiStorm.com, accessed 10/19/12; Arizona Republic, 6/2/12]

Giffords’ Office Came In $50,000 Under Budget The Year Of Barber’s Raise. From the Arizona Republic: “In the year Barber received the raise, Giffords spent $50,000 less than her office budget allowed.” [Arizona Republic, 6/2/12]

Repealing The Health Care Law Would Have Negative Consequences For Millions

Up To 6.6 Million Young Adults Would Lose Health Care Coverage Through Their Parents’ Plans. From the Los Angeles Times: “President Obama’s healthcare law helped as many as 6.6 million young adults stay on or get on their parents’ health plans in the first year and a half after the law was signed, a new survey indicates. […] Earlier surveys by the federal government found that the number of people ages 19 to 25 without insurance declined after the law was signed, reversing years of erosion in health coverage for young adults.” [Los Angeles Times6/8/12]

70,000 Americans With Pre-Existing Conditions Would Lose Insurance Coverage. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, as of May 31, 2012, 73,333 people were enrolled in the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) created by the Affordable Care Act. [HealthCare.gov, 7/13/12]

5.2 Million People Would Have To Pay More For Prescription Drugs. From the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid: “As a result of the Affordable Care Act, over 5.2 million seniors and people with disabilities have saved over $3.9 billion on prescription drugs since the law was enacted.  The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) also released data today showing that in the first half of 2012, over 1 million people with Medicare saved a total of $687 million on prescription drugs in ‘donut hole’ coverage gap for an average of $629 in savings this year. […] Coverage for both brand name and generic drugs in the gap will continue to increase over time until 2020, when the coverage gap will be closed.” [CMS.gov, 7/25/12]

Over 35 Million Seniors Would Lose Access To Free Preventive Services. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services [CMS] report that 35,106,598 people were enrolled in Medicare Part B in 2011. CMS also reports:

Beginning January 1, 2011, the Affordable Care Act eliminated Part B coinsurance and deductibles for recommended preventive services, including many cancer screenings and key immunizations. The law also added an important new service — an Annual Wellness Visit with a health professional — at no cost to beneficiaries.

According to preliminary numbers, at least 25,720,996 million Americans took advantage of at least one free preventive benefit in Medicare in 2011, including the new Annual Wellness Visit.  This represents 73.3% of Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries, including 2,404,792 African-American beneficiaries, 537,110 Hispanic beneficiaries, 104,393 American Indian beneficiaries, and 508,398 Asian-American beneficiaries. [CMS.gov, 2/15/12]

Affordable Care Act Savings Do Not Cut Medicare Benefits

PolitiFact: Affordable Care Act Does Not Cut Medicare’s Budget, It Attempts To Reduce Future Costs. According to PolitiFact, “Neither Obama nor his health care law literally cut a dollar amount from the Medicare program’s budget. Rather, the health care law instituted a number of changes to try to bring down future health care costs in the program.” [PolitiFact, 8/15/12]

Medicare Spending Reductions “Aimed At Insurance Companies And Hospitals, Not Beneficiaries.” According to PolitiFact: “What kind of spending reductions are we talking about? They were mainly aimed at insurance companies and hospitals, not beneficiaries. The law makes significant reductions to Medicare Advantage, a subset of Medicare plans run by private insurers. Medicare Advantage was started under President George W. Bush, and the idea was that competition among the private insurers would reduce costs. But in recent years the plans have actually cost more than traditional Medicare. So the health care law scales back the payments to private insurers. Hospitals, too, will be paid less if they have too many re-admissions, or if they fail to meet other new benchmarks for patient care. Obama and fellow Democrats say the intention is to protect beneficiaries’ coverage while forcing health care providers to become more efficient.” [PolitiFact, 8/15/12]

  • CBO’s July Estimate Updates Medicare Cost Savings To $716 Billion. According to the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, repeal would have the following effects on Medicare spending: “Spending for Medicare would increase by an estimated $716 billion over that 2013–2022 period. Federal spending for Medicaid and CHIP would  increase by about $25 billion from repealing the noncoverage provisions of the ACA, and direct spending for other programs would decrease by about $30 billion, CBO estimates. Within Medicare, net increases in spending for the services covered by Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance) would total $517 billion and $247 billion, respectively. Those increases would be partially offset by a $48 billion reduction in net spending for Part D.” [CBO.gov, 8/13/12]

GOP Plan Kept Most Of The Savings In The Affordable Care Act. According to the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler: “First of all, under the health care bill, Medicare spending continues to go up year after year. The health care bill tries to identify ways to save money, and so the $500 billion figure comes from the difference over 10 years between anticipated Medicare spending (what is known as ‘the baseline’) and the changes the law makes to reduce spending. […] The savings actually are wrung from health-care providers, not Medicare beneficiaries. These spending reductions presumably would be a good thing, since virtually everyone agrees that Medicare spending is out of control. In the House Republican budget, lawmakers repealed the Obama health care law but retained all but $10 billion of the nearly  $500 billion in Medicare savings, suggesting the actual policies enacted to achieve these spending reductions were not that objectionable to GOP lawmakers.” [WashingtonPost.com, 6/15/11, emphasis added]

[NARRATOR:] For Congress, real differences. Martha McSally is a 22-year Air Force veteran, the first woman to fly in combat since the Gulf War. Ron Barber is a political insider who took a 43 percent taxpayer-funded pay raise while Arizona families were struggling. McSally will repeal Washington’s health care law that takes $700 billion from Medicare. Barber voted against repeal, and with his party nearly 90 percent. Vote against Ron Barber. 60 Plus Association is responsible for the content of this advertising. [60 Plus Association, 10/18/12]