Want a preview of how the GOP is going to try to shrug off things that by all rights shouldn’t play very well next fall – things that have been almost uniformly endorsed by the GOP – like Ryancare, or even more destructive Medicare “reform” proposals put forward by the GOP presidential contenders? Then pay attention to the most recent anti-Claire McCaskill attack ad. Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, Carl Rove’s group, is the responsible party and, according to the Kansas City Star:
The new ad claims that the Missouri Democrat, who is running for re-election this year, “voted to cut Medicare spending half a trillion dollars by supporting ObamaCare…”
This has been a ubiquitous Republican attack line and popular talking point used against any number of Democrats who voted for the health care law. GOP White House hopeful Mitt Romney has leveled it at President Obama, as well
The claim has been debunked numerous times, but Republicans and their allies continue to use it, despite the clear distortions. Independent political watchdogs have grown weary over how many times they have had to keep explaining the fiction.
Clever, hunh? Just accuse the other guy of doing what you did. You may not convince everybody – some folks actually know how to dig deeper and care enough to do it – but it does serve to sow confusion and weaken what ought to be the other guy’s knock-out punch.
The challenge is going to be getting the news out that the Republicans have actually gone after Medicare with a poleax. Maybe, like Politifact, you might want to quibble about what it means to “end Mediare as we know it,” but there’s no way to argue that Ryancare wouldn’t change the program to the point that it would be rendered ineffective, drastically worsening senior’s health care access in the process. You wanna go back to the bad old days (and some of us can tell you just how bad those days were – even before health care advances helped spike costs), vote Republican next fall.
And Claire McCaskill’s vote for the Affordable Care Act which is the basis for the claims in the ad? To quote the Star:
The nonpartisan, political research website said that the Affordable Care Act, which Congress passed in 2010, “does reduce Medicare spending by $500 billion over the next 10 years. But here’s the catch: Those dollars aren’t taken out of the current budget, they are not actual cuts, and nowhere does the bill actually eliminate any current benefits.”
Moreover, the $500 billion in savings comes from health care providers, not Medicare beneficiaries, according to The Fact Checker, a regular microscope on political rhetoric in The Washington Post.
But I can guarantee you that we’re going to hear the line about cutting Medicare used not just about Claire McCaskill, but President Obama, or any good Democrat that you want to put forward. Take, for another example, Greg Sargent’s comments on Mitt Romney’s almost identical dissembling on the topic:
… The debate over Medicare – and Romney’s embrace of the Paul Ryan plan – is about to dominate the conversation. Romney is moving to get ahead of the story by accusing Obama of being the one who would “end Medicare as we know it.”
Good Gravy! Where are lightening bolts from heaven when we need them. I say this because I can also guarantee you that I’ll hear the line repeated a dozen sundry times by the innocent fools who take this stuff to heart and vote accordingly. We gotta get on the ball and squash this line right now – but how, now that Citizens United has released the floods of corporate money that can be used to buy ads like the one targeting McCaskill and run them from now til doomsday?
UPDATE: Crossroads isn’t the only group taking the low road when it comes to McCasill’s support for the ACA. 60 Plus, described as a “conservative senior’s lobby,” is also launching an ad campaign against McCaskill and four other Democratic senators focusing on the the ACA’s provision for a cost-control board:
President Obama’s health care law cuts $500 billion from Medicare to pay for a new government program,” the ad says. “And it creates a board of 15 unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats. It’s like a Medicare IRS with the power to cut Medicare even more.
The ad plays off a new GOP talking point that attempts to revive earlier bogus claims that the ACA would ration care:
Republicans have taken to calling the IPAB a “rationing board,” but the law prohibits the board from reducing seniors’ benefits or increasing their co-pays. Rather, it recommends cuts to provider payments if federal health spending grows at a faster than targeted rate, unless Congress comes up with its own savings
Once again – how do you deal with liars when they’ve got lots and lots of cash?