At this point, you can safely assume each new ad released by the Romney campaign will be rife with dishonesty. Today, it’s another ad on Medicare, which claims Romney and Ryan — and not Obama — can be trusted to defend the program. It’s full of distortions. But the larger point here may be this: Why would you trust someone who is on record attacking entitlements for ideological reasons to guard entitlements?
First, the facts. Called “Nothing’s Free,” the ad attacks Obama for “raiding $716 billion from Medicare and changing the program forever,” “taxing wheelchairs and pacemakers,” and “raising taxes on families making less than $120,000.” In crafting Medicare reforms for the health law, the Obama administration did find savings that — over ten years — add up to $716 billion. Those were used to pay the cost of health insurance subsidies for low-income Americans, shore up the Medicare trust fund, close the prescription drug “donut hole,” and provide preventative care for seniors. So this “cut” has benefitted the program.
The health law does include an excise tax on medical devices — seemingly the source of “taxing wheelchairs and pacemakers.” But as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities explained, the excise tax will have a “minimal effect on consumers.” Spinning this as directly harmful to seniors is misleading, although perhaps par for the course in politics.
The ad crosses into dishonesty with the assertion that Obamacare will “raise taxes on families making less than $120,000.” A version of this claim, debunked by Factcheck.org, is based on a 2010 Congressional Budget Office report which found that 76 percent of those who would pay the penalty for not having insurance in 2016 would earn under $120,000. Since more than 80 percent of Americans have health insurance — and the ACA would expand Medicaid to cover an estimated 17 million additional people — the number affected by the mandate is small. It’s highly misleading to portray this as a tax increase on the overwhelming majority of Americans who make less than $120,000.
The ad’s final line: “The Romney/Ryan plan will restore Medicare funding, and protect and strengthen the program for the next generation.” This isn’t true either.
The Romney/Ryan plan wouldn’t strengthen the program and wouldn’t help seniors. It would increase costs and lay the groundwork for ending the government’s guarantee of health care.
And this is to be expected. Since its inception, conservative Republicans have opposed Medicare on principle. They don’t believe government should provide health insurance. Paul Ryan — who wrote the template for Romney’s Medicare plan — has a particular hostility to social insurance. To use his words, it takes wealth from the “makers” and breeds “dependency” and “complacency” among the “takers.”
If you wouldn’t trust a fox to guard a henhouse, then you probably shouldn’t trust an anti-government radical to protect the welfare state.