12 September 2012

Conservatives attack Democratic lawmakers — on Medicare

Conservatives attack Democratic lawmakers — on Medicare

Washington Post

Jennifer Rubin


For years Democrats have been running ads against Republicans accusing them of wanting to scuttle Medicare. Well, a conservative group is turning the tables this time around.

The American Action Network (AAN), a right-leaning advocacy group focused on Congress, is launching Wednesday a campaign to, according to a press release, publicize the “cuts to Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) and Medicare Advantage (MA) in the states and congressional districts of Senators and Members of Congress that voted for or to preserve Obamacare.”

The release explains that AAN will release “a county-by-county analysis of the Medicare fee-for-service and Medicare Advantage cuts included in Obamacare.” These will be featured at a new Web site,www.TheyCutYourMedicare.com as well as “at one of the individualized sites for 19 Members of Congress guilty of supporting or preserving the health-care law.”

Echoing much of what we have heard from the GOP presidential ticket, the release argues: “Obamacare includes $716 billion in cuts to Medicare simply to fund the new insurance subsidy entitlement and Medicaid expansions, bringing Medicare even closer to bankruptcy. It comes in stark contrast to the Ryan Budget passed in 2011 that made long-term adjustments to the underlying cost structure of Medicare to ensure its solvency for future generations. Given this substantive policy difference, district by district Medicare cuts data was only released in the districts where the Representative supported or supported preserving Obamacare.”

The Medicare offensive is a sign that the Romney-Ryan attack is working both to undermine support for Obamacare and to cast Republicans in the role of protector of seniors’ health care.

The ad campaign, of course, helps the GOP presidential ticket merely by mentioning Obamacare and the connection to Medicare solvency. That, to a degree, frees up the presidential nominee to talk more about his pro-growth agenda and how it will impact voters’ lives.

If the AAN campaign is successful, it may radically shift the politics of Medicare and cut down Democrats’ historic advantage on this issue.

A word of caution is in order for Republicans. The argument should notbe that we should try to slow or reverse the escalating increase in cost of Medicare. That should be the goal and is essential to preserving Medicare over the long haul. Rather, the key here is that the president took funds out of the Medicare system entirely to fund something else (Obamacare) and did so in the worse possible way, namely with across the board cuts and a rationing-type board (the Independent Payment Advisory Board), with no systemic reform to improve the quality and affordability of care. That is both the right policy objection, and, if AAN is right, a political winner.

Courtney Parella

Communications Director