After last week’s wave of House ads, conservative outside groups focused most of their attention on the Senate this week. Of the 14 ads we fact-checked, eight of them targeted Senate hopefuls (five from Karl Rove’s Crossroads groups and three from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce), compared to only two hitting House candidates (both from the Congressional Leadership Fund). We also answered presidential ads from Restore Our Future, Americans for Job Security, and American Future Fund. Finally, Americans for Prosperity joined the conservative campaign to oust three Florida Supreme Court justices.Read more after the jump.
Politicians & Pundits: Paul Ryan
The Chamber of Commerce’s attack on Bill Nelson’s Affordable Care Act vote holds up better in the vacuum the ad presents than it does in the real world. In reality, the law doesn’t cut Medicare benefits and extends the life of the program by eight years. Also in reality, Nelson is running against a congressman who not only voted for the same Medicare savings, but supported the Republican Study Committee’s “Paul Ryan budget on steroids.”Read more after the jump.
The Chamber of Commerce subtly suggests that former Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp is a Washington insider who helped pass health care reform, without mentioning that her opponent has been in Congress for two years. The subtext might not be so interesting if the ad weren’t centered around Medicare spending reductions. Congressman Rick Berg voted for those same measures twice, while Heitkamp’s voted for them zero times. And while the Chamber misrepresents the Medicare and tax impacts of the Affordable Care Act, that’s no surprise; the group spent $100 million lobbying against it earlier in President Obama’s term.Read more after the jump.
The American Action Network reaches all the way back to the 1970s to accuse Rick Nolan (D-MN) of supporting the end of Medicare. But Nolan’s opponent, Rep. Chip Cravaack, voted to “essentially end” Medicare in 2011, in a GOP budget that also retained the Affordable Care Act’s Medicare savings, over which AAN attacks Nolan. Furthermore, the bill Nolan supported forty years ago would have replaced Medicare with universal coverage for all Americans – which was the dominant school of thought among health care reformers of the era.Read more after the jump.
We added eight ad checks this week, with conservative outside groups focusing their fire on the Nevada, Virginia and Ohio Senate races. Only two of them didn’t come from Crossroads GPS: an obscure group called the Treasure Coast Jobs Coalition lobbed tired Recovery Act claims at Rep. Allen West’s (R-FL) opponent, and the American Future Fund turned Paul Ryan’s Republican National Convention lie about a Wisconsin auto plant into a 60-second spot.
Crossroads GPS hit Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) with the standard misleading Medicare attacks (“Laughable” in Nevada and “Football” in Ohio), but got a bit more creative in Virginia. The group released two versions of an ad called “Teeth” that attacks Gov. Tim Kaine (D-VA) over education funding, and alleged in another that his support for the congressional debt ceiling deal meant he “supports cutting what matters: our jobs.” Karl Rove’s behemoth also launched two presidential ads, taking an Obama quote out of context in Nevada and scrambling to defend Mitt Romney’s tax plans in “Broke.”Read more after the jump.
American Future Fund is regurgitating Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) claim that the closure of a General Motors factory in his hometown proves President Obama’s economic policies failed. The timeline of events does not support AFF and Ryan’s claim, as the plant’s closure came under President Bush. More importantly, AFF and Ryan both omit some of then-candidate Obama’s 2008 comments to Janesville auto workers: Obama stressed the plant would have to retool its assembly line to make fuel-efficient cars rather than SUVs and trucks, because GM and the larger auto market were all shifting sharply in that direction. Indeed, Ryan lobbied GM throughout 2008 to retool the Janesville plant, while also claiming that government action could lower gas prices and help save truck assembly plants. Market forces and chronology render AFF’s ad highly dishonest.Read more after the jump.
American Future Fund praises Heidi Heitkamp’s character, but suggests North Dakota voters shouldn’t support her because Rep. Rick Berg offers a better vision for government. AFF illustrates that contrast by talking about the Medicare spending reductions in the Affordable Care Act, which the ad claims are “putting seniors at risk.” But while Heitkamp was in North Dakota voicing support for President Obama’s health care law, Berg was in Congress voting for the exact same ‘cuts’ – twice.Read more after the jump.
House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) is out with an updated version of his fiscal blueprint for the country, replacing last year’s widely panned plan to effectively end Medicare by turning it into a voucher system with an only slightly less destructive concoction. In his latest proposal, Ryan pitches a premium-support system that would offer seniors a voucher to buy either traditional Medicare or a private plan, purporting to control costs by allowing competition. But the vouchers wouldn’t be able to keep up with rapidly rising medical costs, shifting the burden onto beneficiaries and eventually rendering traditional Medicare an unviable program.
Click here to read more about the Medicare overhaul in Rep. Ryan’s previous budget, which was passed by the House GOP in 2011.
The New Ryan Budget Undermines Medicare
The 2013 Ryan Budget “Reiterates Republicans’ Call Last Year For Overhauling Medicare.” From Bloomberg: “The proposal reiterates Republicans’ call last year for overhauling Medicare, though with some changes reflecting a compromise plan Ryan of Wisconsin has since written with Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat. It would offer seniors, starting in 2023, subsidies they could use to buy private health insurance or use in Medicare. Either way, benefits would be capped, which would be a major change in how the open-ended program now operates.” [Bloomberg, 3/20/12]Read more after the jump.
In 2011, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) introduced a controversial plan that he claimed would “save” Medicare. The proposal was included in the House budget, which passed the lower chamber with nearly unanimous support from Republicans but was voted down in the Senate. The Medicare debate rages on, however, and the facts about the Ryan plan are too often obscured by the aggressive spin of its supporters and distracting arguments about the definition of words like “end” and “voucher.” Whatever the right wants to call it, the Ryan plan is radical legislation that would hurt millions of Americans who rely on Medicare for health security.
Ryan Plan Would “Essentially End” Medicare For Future Seniors…
Ryan Plan Transforms Medicare Into A “Premium Support System.” According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s overview of the Ryan plan: “The proposal would gradually transform Medicare into what is described as a ‘premium support system.’ Beginning in 2022, all newly-eligible Medicare beneficiaries (i.e., individuals turning 65 as well as younger, disabled individuals becoming eligible for Medicare) would only have access to health coverage through private insurance plans, rather than through the current government-run Medicare program (i.e., traditional Medicare), or under a Medicare Advantage plan. Under the new premium support system, Medicare beneficiaries would be entitled to a payment from the federal government to help defray premiums and other health care costs under the plan. The government would make payments directly to private health plans on behalf of Medicare eligible enrollees, rather than pay hospitals, physicians, and other medical providers directly for the services provided to their Medicare-eligible patients, as is currently the case. If the government payments to plans on behalf of enrollees were insufficient to cover premiums and/or other costs, beneficiaries would be responsible for additional costs. In other words, Medicare would no longer provide coverage for medical care, but instead provide a ‘subsidy’ toward the purchase of a private health insurance plan.” [Kaiser Family Foundation, April 2011, emphasis added]Read more after the jump.
Those familiar with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) last budget proposal won’t be shocked at this year’s updated “Path to Prosperity,” a fiscal plan for 2013 and beyond that pledges policy prescriptions for “safeguarding America from the perils of debt, doubt and decline.” Like the old version of the “Path,” Ryan’s second attempt at engineering fiscal policy – including recommendations for overhauling the tax code, cutting spending, and reforming Medicare and Medicaid – takes an axe to federal spending that benefits those without political or economic power but showers tax breaks on the wealthy. With its absence of reasonable solutions for lowering debt and its far-fetched proposals to shift the country’s fiscal burdens onto the poor and middle class, the latest Ryan plan is at heart the same as the old one: A blueprint not for stabilizing the country’s fiscal situation but for forcing an ultra-conservative vision on the federal government.
Ryan Plan’s Cuts Are Enormous, Unrealistic, And Wouldn’t Balance The Budget Until 2040
The New Ryan Plan Proposes Even Larger Deficit Cuts Than Last Year’s GOP Budget. From the Associated Press: “This year’s GOP measure would produce deficit estimates that are significantly lower than a comparable measure passed by the House a year ago, claiming deficit cuts totaling $3.3 trillion – spending cuts of $5.3 trillion tempered by $2 trillion in lower taxes – below Obama over the coming decade. The deficit in 2015, for example, would drop to about $300 billion from $1.2 trillion for the current budget year. Last year’s GOP draft called for a 2015 deficit more than $100 billion higher.” [Associated Press via HuffingtonPost.com, 3/20/12]
The New Ryan Budget Cuts Spending By $100 Billion From This Year To Next. From the Associated Press: “The measure would cut spending from $3.6 trillion this year to the $3.5 trillion range in 2013 and freeze it at that level for two more years.” [Associated Press via HuffingtonPost.com, 3/20/12]
The New Ryan Budget Cuts Spending By $5 Trillion Over The Next Ten Years. From Bloomberg: “House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan today proposed reducing spending by $5 trillion over the next decade from the U.S. budget with Medicaid, food stamps, Pell college tuition grants and other programs facing reductions.” [Bloomberg, 3/20/12]Read more after the jump.