Monday, August 13, 2012

Fact Checking David Axelrod on…Everything

Speaking on ABC’s This Week yesterday, Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod made a series of misleading statements about Obamacare and the House Republican budget.  Take for instance the claims made in this doozy of a paragraph:

AXELROD:  Well, first of all, they want to turn – let’s talk about the $700 billion.  Congressman Ryan, what he doesn’t say is that he’s incorporated that same $700 billion into his plan, so he’s embraced exactly what the president’s done.  The difference is the president is trying to strengthen the Medicare program.  Under the changes that the president made, seniors are getting more prescription coverage and preventive care. We extended the life of Medicare by eight years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.  The Ryan-Romney plan would not do that.  And in fact, by turning it into a voucher program, throwing seniors onto the tender mercies of the private insurance market and capping growth the way they do, ultimately they are going to shift thousands of dollars onto the backs of seniors, and Medicare itself will be in a death spiral because it will – it will be dissipated by seniors who – healthy seniors going into the private system, leaving sick seniors in the existing Medicare program.

Where to begin?  Well, let’s analyze the claims one by one:

“Congressman Ryan, what he doesn’t say is that he’s incorporated that same $700 billion into his plan, so he’s embraced exactly what the president’s done.”  This is FALSE.  While Democrats took savings from Medicare to pay for their costly new Obamacare entitlement, the House Republican budget would use that money to save Medicare first.  And you don’t even need to take my word for it.  Because in November, Nancy Pelosi admitted that Democrats “took a half a trillion dollars out of Medicare in [Obamacare], the health care bill” to pay for more federal spending.  (One related point worth thinking about: If Congressman Ryan actually HAD embraced the President’s proposal, why would Axelrod criticize him…?)

“The difference is that the President is trying to strengthen the Medicare program.”  There’s one problem with this allegation: Medicare actuary Foster has written that the Medicare provisions in the law “cannot be simultaneously used to finance other Federal outlays (such as the coverage expansions under the PPACA) and to extend the [Medicare] trust fund, despite the appearance of this result from the respective accounting conventions.”  Even President Obama himself admitted this irrefutable logic in a 2010 interview, when he stated that “You can’t say that you are saving on Medicare and then spending the money twice.”

“Seniors are getting more prescription coverage…”  That’s an interesting claim to make, because more than 17 million seniors participating in Medicare Part D are facing higher premiums so that Big Pharma can benefit from its “rock-solid deal” struck behind closed doors with President Obama and Congressional Democrats.  Of course, it’s unsurprising for David Axelrod to make this claim, because he received a multimillion dollar severance package indirectly paid for by the pharmaceutical industry, thanks to Big Pharma’s backroom Obamacare deal with the White House.

“We extended the life of Medicare by eight years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.”  That’s not what the Congressional Budget Office said.  The non-partisan CBO said that the Medicare reductions in Obamacare “will not enhance the ability of the government to pay for future Medicare benefits” – because those savings will be used to fund other unsustainable entitlements.  If the President wants to use the Medicare savings provisions to extend the life of the Medicare trust fund – and not to fund the new entitlements created by the law – the Congressional Budget Office previously estimated what the fiscal impact would be:  “A net increase in federal deficits of $260 billion” through 2019.

“Capping the growth the way they [i.e., Republicans] do…”  This is another interesting statement for Axelrod to make, because it was Obamacare that capped Medicare’s growth rate for the first time ever.  What’s more, the House Republican budget caps the growth of Medicare spending at exactly the same growth rate as Obamacare.  The difference is that Obamacare delegates the power to cut Medicare spending to a board of 15 unelected bureaucrats, whereas conservatives would empower patients to make their own choices – reducing costs through competition, NOT government fiat.

“[Under premium support,] Medicare itself will be in a death spiral…”  I’ll let Cokie Roberts – scion of two prominent Democrats – answer this one.  Later in the ABC This Week program, here’s what she said about Axelrod’s claims that Obamacare would strengthen the Medicare program, while premium support proposals would undermine it:

It’s also intellectually dishonest, because the truth is, as you know, they say they’re taking it away from providers.  And every year, Congress votes to do what’s called the doc fix, to give the providers back the money that has been cut.  So, you know, that $700 billion, I won’t look for it to be gone anytime soon.

And because Obamacare takes those Medicare savings out of Medicare to pay for new spending, any attempt to reverse some or all of the $700 billion in reductions would increase the federal deficit.  It’s a perfect example of why Obamacare is so harmful both to seniors and the federal budget.  And no amount of misleading statements by the Obama campaign can disguise that fact.