PHOENIX, AZ -- During a joint speech to Congress in September, President Obama made a passionate call for Congress to fix the nation's ailing health care system in the same spirit that created Social Security and Medicare during similar difficult times. During that speech, he sternly warned, "If you misrepresent what's in the plan, we will call you out. And I will not accept the status quo as a solution. Not this time; not now."
Well, Senator John McCain is getting called out.
Calling McCain "a vocal leader in misdirecting Americans regarding proposed health insurance reform," the DNC is taking exception to recent remarks by the Senator. The DNC has produced a no-nonsense ad that "calls out" the Senator for "blatant misdirection."
During comments made to the Senate on December 5, McCain claimed it is impossible for seniors to keep their benefits with Medicare Advantage Savings. He neglected to remind his colleagues that during his Presidential campaign, he solidly proposed to "cut back Medicare Advantage payments possibly to the tune of $150 Billion over 10 years, as part of comprehensive health care reform."
In a December 2 letter to the Senate entitled, AARP: McCain Amendment Takes Senate Bill in Wrong Direction, CEO Barry Rand urged Senators to oppose Sen. John McCain's amendment to recommit the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Rand said in that letter:
With respect to Medicare, AARP supports policies to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse--and to improve the quality, value and sustainability of the program for current and future beneficiaries. The legislation before the Senate properly focuses on provider reimbursement reforms to achieve these important policy objectives. Most importantly, the legislation does not reduce any guaranteed Medicare benefits.
Just days before Senator McCain's Senate floor misrepresentation, FactCheck.org wrote: "Three seniors groups have come out in opposition to McCain's amendment: AARP, the National Committee to Protect Social Security and Medicare and the Alliance for Retired Americans, which, like the other groups, said that the bill does not cut Medicare benefits. With the expected rising costs of Medicare, the legislation slows the rate of the program's growth without reducing benefits."
Not to be bothered by his own voting record, McCain said on November 30: "Slashing Medicare by nearly $500 billion is not health care reform. These Medicare cuts will impacts [sic] senior's access to quality care. This is a price that Americans should not be asked to pay."
A Media Matters tally noted that, since 1991, Republican Senators have voted to slash $1.31 Trillion in funding for Medicare during their collective tenure in Congress. Senator McCain voted in favor of every single instance of Medicare cut listed.
In a joint statement, the Medicare Rights Center and the Center for Medicare Advocacy differ with McCain's assertions: "The amendment to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act offered by Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, is couched as an effort to protect Medicare. It is not. In fact, if this amendment passes, it would kill the bill and the very real benefit improvements it makes for people with Medicare."
On November 21, McCain cited the cost of the Senate Bill as a whopping $2.5 Trillion, without disclosing that the figure was calculated by using biased and fabricated numbers from Fox News and Senate Republicans who countered the CBO estimate with a figure of their own.
The Washington Post's Ezra Klein wrote of the Senate bill:
"One actual surprise is that the Senate bill doesn't just pay for itself. It balances itself out. That is to say, the bill is not deficit neutral because it costs a billion dollars and then the government raises a billion more dollars in taxes. In that scenario, the government is spending more, but paying for it. Rather, CBO expects that, during the decade following the 10-year budget window, the increases and decreases in the federal budgetary commitment to health care stemming from this legislation would roughly balance out, so that there would be no significant change in that commitment.' In the first 10 years, in other words, the bill improves the deficit a bit, but the government is spending $160 billion more on health care than it otherwise would have. In the second decade, however, that ends: The savings from Medicare and Medicaid, paired with the excise tax (which CBO says 'is effectively a reduction in the existing tax expenditure for health insurance premiums') and a handful of other changes, leaves the government spending no more on health care than it otherwise planned to. That's impressive stuff."
Particularly pugnacious was a November 30 assertion by McCain from the Senate floor that women would be particularly harmed under the Senate Bill. Referring to a recent report from a Bush-era task force regarding mammogram recommendations based on raw data figures, he said, "Women all over America are rising up about it. Listen. If you think that's bad, wait until you get this legislation."
In a statement regarding the recommendations, Sec. Kathleen Sebelius said, "[t]here is no question that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommendations have caused a great deal of confusion and worry among women and their families across this country. I want to address that confusion head on. The U.S. Preventive Task Force is an outside independent panel of doctors and scientists who make recommendations. They do not set federal policy and they don't determine what services are covered by the federal government...My message to women is simple. Mammograms have always been an important life-saving tool in the fight against breast cancer and they still are today. Keep doing what you have been doing for years - talk to your doctor about your individual history, ask questions, and make the decision that is right for you."
From misleading statement to misleading statement, McCain has worked through skewed and downright deceptive talking points on the Senate floor, earning him the distinction of being named by the DNC as the leader in misdirecting the American public on health insurance reform.
There are many more misleading statements from John McCain; cunning statements meant to frighten seniors, cause listeners to clutch tightly to their wallets and, with spinning heads filled with untruths and fear, plead with their Senators to vote against the millions of Americans who currently suffer without health care. But for now it's sufficient to know that when it comes to misrepresenting what is in the Senate bill ...
John McCain has been called out!