Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 22, 2011

SHAMELESS.... There were plenty of well-financed, far-right groups running health care attack ads last year, none of which were especially concerned with accuracy. But amidst a lot of dishonesty, the ads from the 60 Plus Association stood out in their duplicity.

The shadowy outfit, which bills itself as a right-wing version of the AARP, not only argued that the Democrats' Affordable Care Act would slash Medicare funding, but also that Dems were effectively being unpatriotic by imposing hardship on the Greatest Generation.

The message wasn't even close to being true, but the 60 Plus Association's demagoguery nevertheless helped scare the bejesus out of seniors, even as the Affordable Care Act strengthened Medicare and expanded benefits to the elderly.

Well, that was last year. Now, congressional Republicans are pushing a plan that eliminates Medicare, replacing it with a privatized voucher system, and guts Medicaid, which many seniors in nursing homes rely on. Surely an outfit like the 60 Plus Association, which is so concerned about seniors and health care, will be outraged, right? Wrong.

The conservative retiree group 60 Plus is going up with $800,000 worth of ads in 39 districts, thanking House Republicans for passing a budget that it says saves Medicare.

"The House passed a budget that protects and preserves Medicare for years to come," says one ad running in Arizona. "And our congressman, Paul Gosar, voted to protect Medicare and keep it secure for future retirees."

The 60-second radio ads, which will be complemented by phone calls and mail from 60 Plus, represent the latest media offensive this week on the increasingly contentious issue. And it's clearly a direct response to recent attacks from Democrats on the issue.

So, to review, the right-wing group was outraged when Democrats strengthened Medicare and expanded benefits for seniors, and told the public Dems were trying to hurt seniors. A year later, the House Republicans vote to eviscerate Medicare and Medicaid, and 60 Plus is thanking them for it.

And a whole lot of folks will see and hear the ridiculous message -- 60 Plus has a lot of money, though no one knows where it comes from -- not knowing that it's dishonest. Indeed, 60 Plus is cynically counting on seniors being easily misled.

Shameless. Just shameless.

Steve Benen 10:45 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (25)

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Comments

You know, at a certain point, seniors need to wake up and stop being so damned gullible.

Posted by: FlipYrWhig on April 22, 2011 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

More like drop dead and stop being so damned gullible.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on April 22, 2011 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

Ah yes. Party before Country - every time!

Otherwise known as Republican.

Posted by: Mark-NC on April 22, 2011 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

When the Dems and GOP were negotiating the terms of the Bush tax cut extension during the lame-duck session, one thing I argued for at the time was that passing the DISCLOSE Act should be part of our quid pro quo for extending tax cuts for the rich.

I was aware at the time that nobody of importance was listening to me or considering this idea on their own, but the consequences of our failure to pass this legislation by hook or by crook will be with us a long time.

It would be far easier to discredit 60 Plus if it were possible to show who they were and where their money was coming from.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on April 22, 2011 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

No, what we need is to not allow lies to be broadcast under the guise of "opinion." "The sky is pretty today" is an opinion. "The sky is green with orange and red plaid" is a lie.

Similarly, "The Democrats' plan is bad and the Republicans' plan is good" is an opinion. "Democrats will bankrupt the country and destroy Medicare, while Republicans will make it stronger & more solvent than ever before" is a provable lie.

Other countries recognize the difference, why can't we? You can't advertise a product in this country with lies, but a candidate or a party platform, which is a helluva lot more important, can be lied about incessantly and with impunity. This is a perversion of the First Amendment, not a demonstration of its strength.

Posted by: Gummo on April 22, 2011 at 11:14 AM | PERMALINK

Shame in not in the Republican genome.

And, as for the word "saved," "I do not think that word means what you think it means."

Posted by: c u n d gulag on April 22, 2011 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

Stupidity, like age, is a pre-existing condition.

Posted by: beep52 on April 22, 2011 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

I wouldn't be a bit surprised to discover that the 60 Plus Association exists on paper only.

Posted by: Death Panel Truck on April 22, 2011 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

After Steve's post about Politifact's "Pants-on-Fire" judgement of Obama's statement about the GOP's 2012 budget plan, I thought it would be a good idea to see what they said about the above claim made by the 60 Plus Association: "Barely True".

WTF?

Posted by: Kiweagle on April 22, 2011 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

All I can say is the Dems better wake up and be VERY serious about the Republican effort to kill Medicare. Yes, right now they're enjoying huge polling advantages, but the Republicans are focused, ruthless, and are in it till they win it. That dumb little Democratic ad with seniors partying to raise money will not cut it against the barrage of whatever the GOP comes up with.

Posted by: bruce k on April 22, 2011 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

Thank you Mr. Orwell for providing them with the blueprint.
War is Peace
Freedom is Slavery
Ignorance is Strength
Destroying Medicare Saves it

See how easy it is.

Posted by: John R AKA Mr. Serf Man on April 22, 2011 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

I actually support Ryan's plan of replacing medicare with vouchers. Seniors are the strongest supporters of republicans. Until they feel the pinch and have to deal with the nightmare of private insurance and healthcare rationing, nothing will change. Why does one segment of the population get socialised medicine while the rest subject to for-profit private vultures and 40 million people have no insurance at all. Seniors love republicans and so far everyone else has paid the price for their stupidity.

Posted by: rk21 on April 22, 2011 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

""The House passed a budget that protects and preserves Medicare for years to come," says one ad running in Arizona. "And our congressman, Paul Gosar, voted to protect Medicare and keep it secure for future retirees."

I think it's gotten to the point where it is more Norman Bates than Winston Smith.

Posted by: thebewilderness on April 22, 2011 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

The 60 plus outfit may have exaggerated, but the ACA did cut medicare advantage plan funding. My plan was discontinued. The company (AARP/United Health Care) put me in another plan, but my drug expenses and medical copayments have increased. E.G. per diem hospital charges have increased 6% and my share of drug cost has increased almost 18%.

Posted by: CDW on April 22, 2011 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

I actually support Ryan's plan of replacing medicare with vouchers. Seniors are the strongest supporters of republicans. Until they feel the pinch and have to deal with the nightmare of private insurance and healthcare rationing, nothing will change.

Those over 55 are excluded from Ryan's plan and continue to get Medicare for the rest of their lives. They won't feel any kind of pinch. Because Ryan is brave and courageous.

As for 60 Plus, the word Steve is looking for is evil. If you believe in hell, the people in charge of this group are going there when they die.

Posted by: Shalimar on April 22, 2011 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

This is exactly according to plan.

The Right has been using the "who do you believe, me or your lying eyes" tactic for decades.

Now, if they were actually able to privatize Medicare--essentially destroying the very real benefits of the program--and the reality sets in for all those trailing-boomers who voted for the Right--the Right will simply say "the Democrats did it. We had nothing to do with it. THEY destroyed your Medicare."

It's beyond shameless.

this is how it's going to be. The Right in this country will never take responsibility for anything. Ever. They'll always do everything they can to blame the consequences of their policy decisions on anyone but themselves. This is a tactic that goes way, way back, and depends on voters who are so ignorant they barely know how to tie their own shoes.

Posted by: LL on April 22, 2011 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

Also, let's not forget here, people who are 55 and over will be unaffected by any changes the GOP makes to Medicare.

That's all part of the plan of course, to drive a big wedge between generations. That's been the GOP plan for a long, long time, and now, they see an opening, and they're doing what they can to take advantage of that opening.

If Obama called them out on it, and called them out with brutal frankness, they might get cold feet, but it ain't happening yet.

Posted by: LL on April 22, 2011 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

Shameless? True enough, but then that very human emotion is simply not a part of the GOP character.

Posted by: sparrow on April 22, 2011 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

60 Plus refers to "millions in income" not age.

Posted by: fled frintstone on April 22, 2011 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

The 60 plus outfit may have exaggerated, but the ACA did cut medicare advantage plan funding. -- CDW

I don't think the ACA was responsible for the increases you experienced. My parents encountered similar changes, but all were manipulations by the insurance companies. From what I can tell, significant cuts in Fed subsidies to Medicare Advantage won't take affect for a few years. In the meantime, there's this, published in Sept of last year:

Seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans will pay slightly less next year for their health insurance, Obama administration officials announced Tuesday.

The average monthly premium in the private Medicare Advantage plans will drop to $35.69 in 2011, which is 45 cents less than this year's average monthly cost.
The move comes despite predictions that beneficiaries enrolled in the private plans offered through Medicare would see a sharp increase in out-of-pocket costs after the Affordable Care Act (ACA) cut billions from the plans and added new restrictions on what they can charge and what they must cover.
Posted by: beep52 on April 22, 2011 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

remember all that scaremongering about gov.run healthcare?

Poll Question:

Gov. has the responsibility to provide HC for the elderly?

YES:

88% DEMS..

79% Indies..

55% GOP...

47% Tea Party

- NYT/CBS Poll 4/21/11

a majority of republicans think gov. should provide HC for seniors..

how come no headline?

Posted by: mr. irony on April 22, 2011 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

beep52

You didn't say whether your parents have advantage plans or supplemental insurance, which are two different animals.

I pay nothing for the advantage plan I had nor for the one they gave me when they shut my original plan down. I keep it only because there is no charge for the drug plan that is included.

Sure the increases I experienced could be due to insurance company manipulations, but anyone who thinks that getting less from the government won't affect the cost of the services they provide is naive at best. That would mean insurance companies aren't considering their bottom lines.

Posted by: CDW on April 22, 2011 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

> 60 Plus is cynically counting on seniors being easily misled.

No need for a full out misunderstanding when just confusion will do. Its a classic FUD PR strategy: Enough Fear Uncertainty and Doubt always protects the status quo, even if the status quo means profitably driving of a cliff.

Worried about attack ads about how you cut medicare spending? Just preempt them with ads saying the complete opposite with absolute confidence. What is the audience gonna do, read thirty years of thousands of pages worth of budgetese so everyone can make their own projections?

Worried about science showing average outside temperatures have been going up for decades? Hire people in labcoats* to confidently and with absolute certainty say that the temperatures outside have been going down. What is the audience gonna do launch its own weather satellites?

*) Side note real PR people dont actually want people in labcoats anymore because the public has stopped trusting them ever since the great “does smoking cause cancer “debate””

Any fighting over facts that follows will leave the audience unable to make up its mind because the whole thing is just a complicated muddy debate. Next step, also done trough proxies, ask the question: just who are these people so very passionately shouting “facts” as though they are undisputed? What is their motivation? Why do the really want medicare and action on smoking and carbon emissions?

Demographically “socialist” conspiracy mongering is running out of steam. IIRC A few years back using the previous census my spreadhseet came up with 2012 as the year when more than half of either the US or those eligible to vote was born or became politically aware after the fall of the Berlin wall. Looks there isn`t a detail I didn`t forget there but the point remains: many potential voters are pretty oblivious to just what is so scary about nuclear armed “socialist” senator Sanders. You can do similar math with the cuban missle crisis, the Vietnam war, the Iranian hostage crisis and all these other key events that used to be what shaped the popular imagination.

“Anti-business” isn't gonna fly in an audience that distrust multinational corporations and actually works at the bottom of their food chain....

“corrupt” in the pocket big medicare of isn't gonna work in a world where everyone can just look up the pre citizen united part of your campaign funding infrastructure.

I would put my money on “foreign” as the next implied boogie man though it will be hard to pull of with Europeans and European last names not being scary and the other side working so hard to recruit pale white boring air freshener salesman type elected officials. They are coming to make our healthcare system and cars all Swedish like!

But with the paid shills always turning out less than perfectly reliable and boring personalities there has to be a sustained offensive on the credibility of the other side as well.

So I guess this is a heads up to anyone publishing medicare projections comparing the various plans: Imagine all the money needed for all those ads in all those TV advertising markets, now imagine about half that money spend going trough your resume, your e-mail and your trash trying to find something, anything, to change the subject and keep off-topic until the end of the five minute shouting match “debate”.

Posted by: wasd on April 22, 2011 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

Any chance any Dem was bold enough to ask Gosar to refudiate the ad? Any chance the media in that Congressional district realized it was a gold-plated lie and called it out? Maybe asked Gosar to call for disclosure of who's paying for ads in his behalf?
Somebody has to call out the lies. I know there are a lot of them and it's hard to keep up, but this one reeks with special intensity.

Posted by: wesfromga on April 23, 2011 at 6:25 AM | PERMALINK

Sourcewatch seems to think they know where 60 Plus' money comes from.

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=60_Plus_Association

Here's a hint. It ain't seniors.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on April 23, 2011 at 10:23 PM | PERMALINK
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