U.S. Chamber of Commerce: “Jon Tester – Working for Washington”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce attacks Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) for supporting the Affordable Care Act, a cap-and-trade bill, and for the Senate’s failure to pass a budget resolution over the last three years. Contrary to the Chamber’s claims, however, the health care law doesn’t ‘cut’ Medicare benefits, and the cap-and-trade measure Tester supported would have had little impact on the average household budget.

Health Care Reform Relies On The Private Sector

PolitiFact: Affordable Care Act “Greatly Relies On The Private Sector.” According to PolitiFact: “[T]he law increases regulation. But it greatly relies on the private sector to provide health care. Hospitals will not be taken over by the government, doctors will not become federal employees. The act relies on private insurers to compete and provide health care coverage to an expanded customer base. Employer-based coverage through private companies continues. The ‘government takeover of health care’ is a potent political charge that does not hold up under examination.” [PolitiFact.com, 6/16/12]

Federal Government’s Share Of U.S. Health Spending Is Projected To Grow Very Slowly Under ACA. According to Kaiser Family Foundation president Drew Altman: “Measured by the government’s share of health care spending, there is no sign of a government takeover of the health care system.” The following chart, based on analysis by the Center on Medicare and Medicaid Services, shows the projected share of U.S. health spending by the states, the federal government, and the private sector in 2010 and 2020:


[KFF.org, 8/1/11]

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]

Cap-And-Trade Policy Would Have Had Little Impact On Household Budgets

The ad cites Senate Roll Call Vote #145 on June 6, 2008, in which the Senate rejected cloture on a version of the Climate Security Act of 2008.

Projections Suggested Climate Change Policy Would Have Little Impact On Household Budgets. From an Environmental Defense Fund analysis of five models used to predict the impacts of climate change legislation: “[W]hile climate policy is expected to raise electricity bills somewhat, the effect is fairly modest. Over the period 2010-2030, the median projected increase in the average household electricity budget relative to business as usual, across all of these models considered here, turns out to be the EIA’s forecast—just $3.30 a month, or about 3.5%. (The average projected increase is $3.15.) Moreover, the electricity bills implied by all of the models fall well within the range of recent experience. For example, the most recent analysis of the Lieberman-Warner bill (by RTI) suggests that households would spend about the same amount on electricity under climate policy, in real terms, as they did in 2005.” [EDF.org, 2008]

CAP: “Climate Security Act Would Create Tens Of Thousands Of New Clean-Energy Jobs” And Protect Current Energy Jobs Against Offshoring. From the Center for American Progress: “The Climate Security Act would create tens of thousands of new clean-energy jobs. In addition to making clean energy more economically attractive, the bill would invest billions of dollars in efficiency and renewables. The bill includes $150 billion for renewable energy investments alone. If this sum were equally divided into $50 billion each for investments in wind, concentrated solar, and geothermal, we estimate that by 2050 it would generate a total of 81 billion kilowatt-hours of wind-powered electricity, which could power approximately 7.7 million homes and create 42,000 jobs; 52 billion kWh of concentrated solar electricity, which could power about 5 million homes and create 5,600 jobs; and 131 billion kWh of geothermal electricity, which could power about 12.4 million homes and create 71,000 jobs. The bill would also protect workers in high carbon-emitting fields from losing their jobs overseas to nations that do not reduce their global warming pollution. The Climate Security Act includes a provision that would require imports from nations that do not have a comparable system of greenhouse gas reductions to pay an excess emissions penalty after 2015.” [AmericanProgress.org, 5/30/08]

[TESTER CLIP:] “Cause isn’t it time we make the Senate look a little bit more like Montana?’ [NARRATOR:] Senator, you had your chance. Washington has changed you. Tester voted for more Washington in health care, cutting Medicare by $716 billion. Tester voted for more government in energy with cap-and-trade, which would have raised energy costs. The Senate hasn’t even passed a budget in three years. Tester isn’t working for Montana, he’s working for more Washington. The U.S. Chamber is responsible for the content of this advertising. [U.S. Chamber via YouTube.com, 10/19/12]