Political Animal


August 22, 2012 9:56 AM Running Out Clock on Medicare

By Ed Kilgore

Given what we know about the cynicism of the Romney campaign, it’s entirely possible its strategy for dealing with attacks on the Ryan Budget’s effect on Medicare will be to raise constant counter-attacks that don’t survive a moment’s serious scrutiny, but succeed each other quickly until Election Day arrives and the clock runs out.

The Big Bertha rolled out about the time Paul Ryan was selected as Mitt’s running-mate, based on one of the Big Lies of the 2010 campaign, was that Obama and congressional Democrats had “raided” $716 billion in Medicare funds to pay for its socialist efforts to give undeserving poor and sick people health insurance. When it was pointed out that the same “cuts” (actually negotiated reductions in provider reimbursements plus a paring back of the “bonus” subsidies for private Medicare Advantage plans) were included in Paul Ryan’s own budget plan, Romney quickly said he’d restore the money if elected.

Now that promise is drawing scrutiny, as noted by the New York Times’ Jackie Calmes:

While Republicans have raised legitimate questions about the long-term feasibility of the reimbursement cuts, analysts say, to restore them in the short term would immediately add hundreds of dollars a year to out-of-pocket Medicare expenses for beneficiaries. That would violate Mr. Romney’s vow that neither current beneficiaries nor Americans within 10 years of eligibility would be affected by his proposal to shift Medicare to a voucherlike system in which recipients are given a lump sum to buy coverage from competing insurers.
For those reasons, Henry J. Aaron, an economist and a longtime health policy analyst at the Brookings Institution and the Institute of Medicine, called Mr. Romney’s vow to repeal the savings “both puzzling and bogus at the same time.”
Marilyn Moon, vice president and director of the health program at the American Institutes for Research, calculated that restoring the $716 billion in Medicare savings would increase premiums and co-payments for beneficiaries by $342 a year on average over the next decade; in 2022, the average increase would be $577.

Worse yet, the only thing worse than the suggestion that Obama wants to “raid” Medicare to help “those people” is the idea that Romney wants to boost out-of-pocket expenses for seniors to provide a windfall to providers, a specter congressional Democrats are already raising:

“The bottom line,” said Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the senior Democrat on the House Budget Committee, which Mr. Ryan leads, “is that Romney is proposing to take more money from seniors in higher premiums and co-pays and hand it over to private insurance companies and other providers in the Medicare system.”

I don’t know exactly how the Romney campaign will get itself out of this latest box on Medicare, but I’m sure it will come up with something confusing enough to take time to rebut, and then turn its attention back to the evil plans of the incumbent to bring back the unconditional dole and in general let those people run riot at your expense, middle-class America!

Got that? Vote Romney and there’s more money for you! Vote Obama, and it’s less money for you, more money for those people!

Add in some selectively broadcast messages about stern father Mitt Romney not wanting dirty girls to have sex and get away with it, and that’s the heart of the GOP message this year, sad to say.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on August 22, 2012 10:08 AM:

    To update the great Mark Twain for the 21st Century:
    In the Electronic Age, disinformation can be all around the world, before information has a chance to boot.

  • c u n d gulag on August 22, 2012 10:11 AM:

    Oh, and combine the above with the age-old truism, "If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullsh*t!", and there you have the entire Romney campaign.

  • T2 on August 22, 2012 10:20 AM:

    The Big Lie only works if a majority of the people don't bother to question it and if those that do don't yell long and loud about it. Or in the case if the Media, don't want to.

  • Peter C on August 22, 2012 10:22 AM:

    Lies are all they have to offer. Sadly, they control most of the media. They are betting it will be enough, indeed, they are doubling down.

  • Mimikatz on August 22, 2012 10:29 AM:

    Sad to say, a great many voters seem to vote with the class they aspire to, rather than the class they are in or slipping toward. Thus, they vote for these "I've got mine, screw you" drawbridge Republicans, ensuring that they will slip even further back. It is truly sad that we don't have class solidarity here.

  • stormskies on August 22, 2012 10:32 AM:

    As Peter C has said most of the corporate media, to quote Scott McClellan, is 'actively complicit' in enabling the Repiglican/corporate agenda. It is what they are paid to do.

    And, as ever, they created more lies/ propaganda in the 'polls' the make up in order to confuse the voters even more. Case in point: the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll wherein within the last two weeks Romney has closed the gap with Obama by 3 percentage points.

    Yep, just remember all that has been exposed about Romeny/ Ryan in the past two weeks. It's fucking overwhelming. Yet, despite this, NBC/ Wall Street Journal is pretending that they have inched up in the polls anyway.

    This is fucking criminal. They lie just as much as the buffoon Romney/Ryan do.

    America seems to creating a reality that is totally defined by lies, deceptions, and delusions all in order to 'serve' the interests of the corporation, and the 400 families, the oligarchy, that control our country.

  • g on August 22, 2012 10:34 AM:

    I donít know exactly how the Romney campaign will get itself out of this latest box on Medicare>/i>

    Really? I do. They'll lie, just like always.

  • James M on August 22, 2012 10:44 AM:

    The short-term and the long-term.

    Long-term the GOP is dead because they have no functioning policy making apparatus. That is the same thing that killed GWB's Administration, as outlined by former Treasury secretary Paul O'Neill. The GOP is also quickly becoming the'Angry White Persons'Party', which is problematic given the U.S' demographic trends.

    However, in the short-term, the GOP can still win elections by:

    - Voter suppression
    - Lying
    - Massive deceptive ad campaigns fueled by PAC and Citizens United money

    However, this time I don't think it is going to work. Despite his occasional failings as president, BO is a master campaigner with a top-notch staff. The Obama campaign has managed to keep the Romney campaign off message all summer (with help from 'Innocents Abroad' trips overseas and unexpected gifts from kooks like Mr. Akin) and Mr. Romney's unfavorables seems to increase by the day.

    I never thought I would say this, but this in one time I am thrilled to have the 'Chicago Machine' on my side!

  • Ryan on August 22, 2012 11:17 AM:

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  • Peter C on August 22, 2012 11:26 AM:

    So, we agree. Romney is constantly lying. Ryan is constantly lying. FOX is constantly lying. The Republican Party is constantly lying. Evangelical preachers are constantly lying.

    The mainstream media is a pathetic mix of constant lying and active enabling and cowed acceptance and small pockets of brave truth-telling (usally dismissed as suspect political grandstanding).

    The courts have opened the flood-gates to unmatchable corporate cash which will finance nearly unlimited commercial attack ad lying. The courts protect the right and power of station owners to mislead and misinform but outlaw bullhorns on public streets.

    So, what do we DO??? Well, we must do more than just sigh and shake our heads sadly. We must arm ourselves with FACTS and speak out in any and all ways we can. We must build networks of our own (personal ones and not media ones) and do our best to innoculate our networks against their lies. We must push the meme that all political ads are suspect and need ACTIVE verification. We must muster our outrage! HOW DARE THEY LIE TO ME!!! HOW DARE THEY LIE TO YOU!!!

    We need also to realize that Obama CAN'T be the spokesman for our outrage; he CAN'T show himself as 'an angry black man'. That would be political suicide. It is up to us.

  • MuddyLee on August 22, 2012 12:12 PM:

    It is encouraging that Joe Klein in Time has written an article very critical of Paul Ryan's theories and past republican practices of cutting taxes on the rich and claiming that this benefited the economy in general. Maybe this article will encourage other mainstream media types to try telling the truth about the "libertarian Disneyworld" that Paul Ryan lives in.

  • jjm on August 22, 2012 12:37 PM:

    And yet, the NYT is now emphasizing how mendacious Ryan/Romney are on Medicare, with an editorial on Sunday and just about every day, is now noting it in its articles.

    There may be hope. Not to mention that new polling by Pew Research shows that 72% of Americans KNOW about Ryan's plans and budget and DISAPPROVE of them by a 15 pt margin