Democrats’ Mediscare Strategy: Facts Don’t Matter

June 1, 2011

Fact-Checks on Democrats’ False and Outrageous Medicare Scare Tactics Pile Up


The bad news keeps coming for the Democrats’ Mediscare campaign. New fact-checks offer yet more evidence that Democrats would rather dabble in false attacks and scare tactics than talk about their own plan to bankrupt Medicare:


THE WASHINGTON POST: DNC CHAIR GETS “THREE PINOCCHIOS” FOR “SCAREMONGERING” AND “BOGUS” CLAIMS:  “We checked with Michael Cannon, director of health policy at the libertarian Cato Institute, one of the experts cited by Sevugan as backing up Wasserman Schultz’s claim. Cannon described her comment as ‘high-octane idiocy.’


“But Wasserman Schultz is jumping to conclusions — not to mention scaremongering metaphors — to describe provisions in the GOP Medicare plan that just do not exist.” (Glen Kessler, “Wasserman Schultz’ Bogus Claim that the GOP Medicare Plan Will “Throw You To the Wolves,” The Washington Post, 6/1/2011)

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz falsely claimed that seniors with preexisting medical conditions would be denied Medicare coverage under the GOP’s plan. The House GOP plan specifically says insurance companies ‘must agree to offer insurance to all Medicare beneficiaries.’


“She also repeated a false Democratic talking point that future beneficiaries — those who are now younger than 55 — would be left on their own to buy insurance in the private market. The GOP plan, as we have written before, would provide subsidies for future beneficiaries to buy private insurance from a Medicare exchange set up by the government. …


“She is simply wrong to say that the GOP plan would allow insurance companies to ‘throw you to the wolves and allow insurance companies to deny you coverage and drop you for preexisting conditions.’” (“DNC Chair Throws Truth to ‘Wolves,’”, 6/1/2011)


It’s not the first time Democrats’ outrageous Medicare scare tactics have run into problems with the truth. Earlier declarations by Politifact and various newspaper editorial boards argued that Democrats are manipulating and distorting the truth to score cheap political points:


POLITIFACT: DEM CLAIM THAT GOP “ENDS MEDICARE” IS A “PANTS ON FIRE” LIE: “With its scenes of seniors going back to work, it seems intended to frighten those who are currently enrolled in Medicare. Finally, the Republicans’ vote was symbolic and didn’t actually change the program. When you add up all those distortions, we find the ad highly misleading.

“The ad’s aged firefighter says, ‘Did someone call the fire department? Because it’s about to get HOT in here!’ We agree. Pants on Fire!” (“Democrats Say Republicans Voted to End Medicare and Charge Seniors $12,000,”, 4/20/2011)


NEW HAMPSHIRE UNION-LEADER: DEMS’ MEDISCARE “LIE” IS “SHAMELESS.” “Democrats, though, claimed that the plan “ends Medicare.” Democratic candidate Kathy Hochul’s campaign also claimed Republicans would “end Medicare.” … The non-partisan site rated that claim a ‘pants on fire’ lie. It noted that Medicare continues under the Ryan plan, and funding for it increases. But being caught in a lie hasn’t dampened the Democrats’ enthusiasm for it. Yesterday, Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., head of the DCCC, said the DCCC will continue to use that attack. Shameless.” (Editorial, “Mediscare in NY: Terrifying Seniors Works,” New Hampshire Union-Leader, 5/26/2011)


THE NEW YORK TIMES: “VOTERS MIGHT ALSO APPRECIATE A DOSE OF HONESTY AND REALISM” FROM DEMOCRATS: “Nonetheless, effective as the playbook was in one special election, Democrats cannot expect to build their entire 2012 campaign around attacking the Ryan plan. … Sooner or later, Democrats will have to admit that Medicare cannot keep running as it is — its medical costs are out of control, and a recent report showed its trust fund running out of money in 2024, five years earlier than expected. Bill Clinton was right on Wednesday to warn his party that it must bring down those costs if it is to have any credibility on the deficit and the economy. …  It might require, as Mr. Clinton put it, giving up some short-term political gain, but voters might also appreciate a dose of honesty and realism in their political diet.” (Editorial, “Running on Medicare the Right Way,” The New York Times, 5/25/2011)


For a dose of reality, look to the latest report from the Obama-appointed trustees of Medicare, who admit that the Democrats’ plan for Medicare will bankrupt it by 2024, if not sooner:


MEDICARE’S TRUST FUND WILL GO BANKRUPT IN 2024, FIVE YEARS EARLIER THAN FORECAST LAST YEAR: “Medicare’s trust fund will run dry in 2024, five years earlier than forecast just last year, and Social Security’s will be exhaused by 2036, adding fuel to the debate over cutting one or both programs to reduce annual budget deficits.” (Richard Wolf, “Medicare, Social Security Money Running Out Faster,” USA Today, 5/13/2011)


THAT PROJECTION MAY BE “SUSPECT” AND MEDICARE MAY GO BANKRUPT EVEN SOONER: “The Medicare figures are suspect, because they rely on billions of dollars in savings projected under the health care law signed by President Obama last year. Those savings depend on many factors, such as cuts in payments to doctors that Congress habitually sidesteps, as well as improvements in doctors’ and hospitals’ productivity.” (Richard Wolf, “Medicare, Social Security Money Running Out Faster,” USA Today, 5/13/2011)


The Democrat plan leads to benefit cuts, rationing by unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats and would “shred the social safety net”:


WILL PELOSI ACCEPT 17 PERCENT BENEFIT CUTS? “The long-range financial imbalance could be addressed in several different ways. In theory, the standard 2.90-percent payroll tax and the additional tax 0.9-percent tax on high-income earners could be immediately increased by the amount of the actuarial deficit to 3.69 percent, or expenditures could be reduced by a corresponding amount. Note, however, that these changes would require an immediate 24-percent increase in the tax rate or an immediate 17-percent reduction in expenditures.” (pp. 28-29, “2011 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Hospital Insurance and Federal Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Funds,” The Boards of Trustees of the Federal Hospital Insurance and Federal Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Funds, 5/13/2011)


BOARD OF UNELECTED BUREAUCRATS TO MAKE HEALTHCARE DECISIONS:“That’s the job description for the 15 members of the Independent Payment Advisory Board — the new panel created by President Barack Obama’s health care law to come up with ways to cut Medicare spending if it grows too fast.”(David Nather, “Medicare Cost-Cutting Job Could Be Worst in DC,” Politico, 5/14/2011)


WSJ: OBAMA MEDICARE PLAN IS MEDICARE “RATIONING”, WILL “THROW GRANNY OVER THE CLIFF”: “One place to start is by attacking the Democratic plan to cut Medicare via political rationing. Mr. Ryan’s budget had the virtue of embarrassing President Obama’s spend-more initial budget, and the White House responded by proposing to increase the power of the new Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) to decide what, and how much, Medicare will pay for. The ObamaCare bill goes to great lengths to shelter this 15-member, unelected board from Congressional review, with the goal of letting these bureaucrats throw granny over the cliff if Medicare isn’t reformed. Yet few Americans know anything about IPAB or its rationing intentions.” (Editorial, “The GOP’s New York Spanking,” The Wall Street Journal, 5/26/2011)


USA TODAY: DEMS’ “DEMONIZATION” OF MEDICARE WHILE IGNORING THEIR PLAN WILL “SHRED THE SOCIAL SAFETY NET”: “Just as surely, Democrats know that the simple math of health care will eventually shred the social safety net they seek to protect. Demonization of the Ryan plan might be a short-term political winner, but unless the Democrats propose a viable money-saving alternative, the future of Medicare might be the least of their problems.” (Editorial, “Our View: ‘Mediscare Won’t Save Medicare,’” USA Today, 5/26/2011)