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The Health Care Ad Wars: "Cutting Medicare" = "Reckless Spending"

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In a New York Times article about the upcoming remake of the movie "Arthur," the original film's producer was asked about the ridiculous conclusion, where the spoiled man-child millionaire gets to keep both his inheritance and his true love. The producer said:

The idea was: Give Arthur the money, bring up the music loud and get the audience the hell out of the theater happy, before they have time to think about it.

The trick to an irrational ending is speed.

That's how I felt watching recent Republican political ads attacking Democrats for supporting the new health care reform law.

At least three ads manage to attack Democrats for being both giant reckless spenders and cruel Medicare cutters in the same breath.

And it happens so fast you barely notice the massive contradiction.

Here's Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul attacking his opponent Jack Conway for supporting "ObamaCare":

Did you catch that? Here's the narrator's quote:

Conway distracts with negative ads to hide his support for ObamaCare, which cuts Medicare by $500 billion dollars. Medicare are Social Security are broken due to Washington's reckless spending...

Huh? Medicare is "broken due to Washington's reckless spending," and "ObamaCare" recklessly cuts spending? Make up your mind Tea Party People!

While Paul's ad wins the prize for the most blatant and brazen contradiction, this ad attacking Rep. Harry Mitchell (D-Ariz.) wins for most artistic contradiction:

The premise of the ad is "Harry Mitchell must think your money grows on trees," as he grabs money off a tree while narrators lists his support for various items such as the "Obama-Pelosi stimulus," and "the new health care that costs a trillion dollars" and "cuts Medicare by $500 billion."

And the animated Harry Mitchell is literally grabbing money off the tree while at the same time narrator accuses him of cutting Medicare.

TIme for a reality check: the health care reform bill is not estimated to cost us anything. It's estimated to reduce the deficit, by lowering the overall cost of health care and making Medicare more efficient -- saving money without cutting benefits.

As Politifact explained, knocking a similar claim in a Florida campaign attack ad for leaving "critical facts out of its description in a way that gives a misleading impression":

...the law does not take $500 billion out of the current Medicare budget. Rather, the bill attempts to slow the program's future growth, curtailing just over $500 billion in future spending over the next 10 years...

...Some of the savings are for relatively minor programs, such as $36 billion for increases in premiums for higher-income beneficiaries and $12 billion for administrative changes. The law directs a new national board to identify $15.5 billion in savings, but the board -- the Independent Payment Advisory Board -- is prohibited from proposing anything that would ration care or reduce or modify benefits...

... there's also $136 billion in projected savings that would come from changes to the Medicare Advantage program ... The Medicare Advantage program was intended to bring more efficiency from the private sector to the Medicare program, but it hasn't worked as planned...

... Finally, there's $220 billion in Medicare savings achieved by reducing annual increases in payments health care providers would otherwise receive from Medicare. The reductions are part of programs intended to improve care and make it more efficient, such as reducing payments for preventable hospital re-admissions. These adjustments are aimed at hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and home health agencies.

You'd think making Medicare more efficient to save money would be embraced by so-called fiscal conservatives. But why go through the effort of being intellectually consistent when you can demagogue so easily in 30 seconds?

One more notable ad is airing in Colorado, attacking Sen. Michael Bennett:

Did you catch the narrator sleight-of-hand on that one?

Bennett cast the deciding vote to allow passage of the trillion dollar health care bill that slashed Medicare...

You might have missed the brazen contradiction because of the giant graphic that read: "DECIDING VOTE TO ALLOW GOVERNMENT RUN HEALTH CARE."

Yes, the awful government-run health care bill that slashed the wonderful government-run Medicare.

Like Arthur, I need a drink.

Originally posted at OurFuture.org

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