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PolitiFact Lie Of The Year: Ryan Kills Medicare

From the archives of PolitiFact:

Lie of the Year 2011: ‘Republicans voted to end Medicare’

By Bill Adair, Angie Drobnic Holan | Tuesday December 20, 2011

Republicans muscled a budget through the House of Representatives in April that they said would take an important step toward reducing the federal deficit. Introduced by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the plan kept Medicare intact for people 55 or older, but dramatically changed the program for everyone else by privatizing it and providing government subsidies.

Democrats pounced. Just four days after the party-line vote, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released a Web ad that said seniors will have to pay $12,500 more for health care "because Republicans voted to end Medicare."

Rep. Steve Israel of New York, head of the DCCC, appeared on cable news shows and declared that Republicans voted to "terminate Medicare." A Web video from the Agenda Project, a liberal group, said the plan would leave the country "without Medicare" and showed a Ryan look-alike pushing an old woman in a wheelchair off a cliff. And just last month, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sent a fundraising appeal that said: "House Republicans’ vote to end Medicare is a shameful act of betrayal."

PolitiFact debunked the Medicare charge in nine separate fact-checks rated False or Pants on Fire, most often in attacks leveled against Republican House members.

Especially, Paul Ryan.

Now, PolitiFact has chosen the Democrats’ claim as the 2011 Lie of the Year…

A complicated and wonky subject with life-or-death consequences, health care is fertile ground for falsehoods. The Democratic attack about "ending Medicare" was a pervasive line in 2011 that preyed on seniors’ worries about whether they could afford health care.

Even when explained accurately, the Republicans’ Medicare plan was not particularly popular with the public, nor with some independent health policy analysts.

We would bet Ryan’s Medicare plan is more popular than Obama-Care. And certainly the Ryan plan for Medicare is more popular than Obama’s plan for Medicare, since he does not have one. And without any plan, Medicare will simply go broke and not help anyone.

Also, lest we forget, the Ryan economic plan has gotten a lot more votes in Congress than any of Obama’s economic plans have ever gotten. Obama’s budgets have been shot down without getting a single vote, Democrat or Republican, in Congress.

But the plan was distorted and attacked again and again…

• They ignored the fact that the Ryan plan would not affect people currently in Medicare — or even the people 55 to 65 who would join the program in the next 10 years.

• They used harsh terms such as "end" and "kill" when the program would still exist, although in a privatized system.

• They used pictures and video of elderly people who clearly were too old to be affected by the Ryan plan. The DCCC video that aired four days after the vote featured an elderly man who had to take a job as a stripper to pay his medical bills…

In a blog post, the DCCC stood by its claim, saying the ad accurately stated Ryan’s plan would "abolish" Medicare.

But PolitiFact was not alone. Other independent fact-checkers also said the claim was false.

"Medicare would remain an entitlement program, but it would also be more costly to future beneficiaries. It would not end," noted FactCheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. The Washington Post’s Fact Checker concluded that while there’s "a worthwhile debate" about whether Ryan’s proposal should be adopted, "it is not true to claim Republicans are trying to ‘kill’ Medicare."

Huh. It’s almost like the way so many fact checking organizations have pointed out that the Obama campaign’s current attacks on Bain Capital are also false. And yet they are ignored.

But the Democrats know, as Winston Churchill observed, that a lie makes it halfway around the world before Hillary Clinton can put her pants on. In fact, they count on that.

‘Scaring 85-year-olds’

Kathleen Hall Jamieson, an expert on campaign advertising who directs the Annenberg center at the University of Pennsylvania, says Democrats have been using falsehoods and exaggerations about Medicare and Social Security since at least 1952. She calls it the longest-running "Democratic deception."

It fits with a core theme from Democrats that they will use government to protect seniors and needy people, while Republicans supposedly want to cut those programs, she says. It is a scare tactic that works.

"If you’re reliant on Medicare, a suggestion your benefits are going to be cut in any way is a direct, visceral threat," said Jamieson…

In the 1950s and 1960s, Democrats used images of Social Security cards being torn in half to suggest that Republicans wanted to cut the program. In 1995, Democrats said House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s plan to restructure Medicare would force seniors to pay more and would "wreck" Medicare

The scare tactics are effective because seniors worry about being able to pay their medical bills and Medicare is a vital program for them. Also, seniors represent a large, up-for-grabs voting bloc.

Jonathan Oberlander, a health policy professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, said, "If you can scare seniors that something is going to happen to those programs, there is potentially a huge payoff in votes."

Isn’t this a form of terrorism? Aren’t the Democrats terrorizing seniors? (Besides, isn’t it the Republicans who are supposed to be the fear mongers?)

But apparently, it’s okay to lie and scare people half to death, as long as it gets you more votes.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, August 13th, 2012. Comments are currently closed.

3 Responses to “PolitiFact Lie Of The Year: Ryan Kills Medicare”

  1. GetBackJack says:

    Politifact – House of Lies

    Sung by Bill Adair

    There is a house in Florida
    They call Politifact
    And it’s been the ruin of many a poor boy
    And God, I know I’m one

    My mother was a liar
    She sowed lies and malcontent
    My father was a Maoist
    Down in Florida

    Now the only thing a liar needs
    Is a modem and an urge
    And the only time he’s satisfied
    Is when he’s making up a dirge

    Oh, mothers, tell your children
    Not to do what I have done
    Spend your lives in sin and misery
    In the house of Politifact

  2. canary says:

    After all the killing of farming with regulations, Obama is bald face lying about Republicans harming farming. Farmers may know what’s going on, but will the rest of the nation?
    Unheard responses of Obama making false allegations isn’t going to cut it. We need a SEAL dog to bite back.

  3. Right of the People says:

    Ryan will be the only thing that saves Medicare.

    Buckle up, it’s going to get bumpy from now until November.

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