When Congressional Republicans released their 2012 budget proposal, Democrats were quick to attack House Budget Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wisconsin) deficit reducing proposal to shift Medicare from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution system. This hyperbolic video from the liberal Agenda Project was typical of the smear campaign against this effort to reduce the deficit and control healthcare costs:
Now, a respected political fact-checker has called those Democratic claims the political “Lie of the Year”. The Tampa Bay Times‘ Politifact detailed a few of the lies Democrats used to attack the Ryan proposal:
• 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.
“Both parties use entitlements as political weapons,” Ryan said in an interview with PolitiFact. “Republicans do it to Democrats; Democrats do it to Republicans. So I knew that this would be a political weapon that the other side would use against us.”
Politifact singled out claims from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and liberal advocacy groups as blatant falsehoods.
To the chagrin of Democratic campaign staff, their traditional Mediscare attacks may not have the desired impact anymore. In addition to the new PolitiFact statement, policymakers from both sides of the aisle are rapidly realizing that reining in Medicare costs will be essential to keeping the federal budget in relative balance. Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Clinton administration budget director Alice Rivlin have worked with Chairman Ryan to produce plans that will shift Medicare from its current state to a premium support system. While these differ somewhat from the original idea introduced in Chairman Ryan’s budget, the core principle of introducing competition into the healthcare entitlement system remains.
Here’s an excellent video explaining the core principles behind the House Budget plan for Medicare: