Team Obama Has Already Chopped into Medicare

Thursday, 16 Aug 2012 08:00 PM

By Deroy Murdock

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Presumptive GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan should begin his campaign rallies by blasting Eric Clapton's "Before You Accuse Me (Take a Look at Yourself)."

This blues tune perfectly reflects the neurosis of President Barack Obama and his troops. They constantly bellow that Mitt Romney and Ryan lust to cut Medicare. Yet, in fact, it is Team Obama that already has chopped deeply into it.

Obama and his comrades echo each other on this point. Republicans are "weakening the safety net," Obama said Monday. "Romney and Paul Ryan are dead set on slashing seniors' Medicare benefits to pay for more millionaire tax breaks," Democratic strategist Kelly Ward wrote donors on Tuesday.

"It's a rigged deal," Obama political guru David Axelrod told MSNBC on Thursday. "The Ryan budget, endorsed by Mitt Romney, would end Medicare," screamed MoveOn.org.

Unfortunately for Democrats, who have sung this song since last year, the truth refuses to harmonize with their vocals. Indeed, PolitiFact.com crowned the left's "Republicans voted to end Medicare" mendacity as "the 2011 Lie of the Year."

The Washington Post caught Democrats with their hands, arms and shoulders in the Medicare cookie jar.

"Romney is right," read last Tuesday's WashingtonPost.com headline. "Obamacare cuts Medicare by $716 billion." Post reporter Sarah Kliff's extensive evidence explains "all the various Medicare cuts Democrats made to pay for the Affordable Care Act" — aka Obamacare.

For starters, the Congressional Budget Office director, Douglas W. Elmendorf, wrote House Speaker John Boehner on July 24. Elmendorf determined that if Congress repealed Obamacare, "spending for Medicare would increase by an estimated $716 billion over that 2013-2022 period."

Conversely, if Obamacare remains law, so will Obama's $716 billion in Medicare cuts.

The Washington Post conveniently itemizes Obama's 10-year decreases in Medicare:
  • The lion's share, some 34.8 percent or $249.2 billion, involves "reductions in how much Medicare reimburses hospitals and private health insurance companies," as Kliff observes. Team Obama lamely argues that these are not Medicare-benefit cuts. Nice try. This is like saying that Washington is not reducing student aid, just limiting tuition payments to colleges and university systems.
  • Another 30.2 percent of Obama's Medicare reductions, or about $216.2 billion, is gouged out of Medicare Advantage. This highly popular program lets seniors choose among private insurers. But, since Obama knows best, this market-friendlier approach gets catapulted off a cliff. "These cuts will force seniors to pay $3,700 more for their healthcare by 2017," according to the Ethics and Public Policy Center's James C. Capretta. "The Medicare trustees project that the cuts will drive some 4 million seniors out of Medicare Advantage plans between 2012 and 2018."
  • A further 8.8 percent ($63 billion) comes from payments diverted from home health providers.
  • An additional 5 percent in cuts ($35.8 billion) affects Disproportionate Share Hospital adjustment payments. These subsidies assist hospitals that treat large numbers of uninsured patients.
  • The remaining 21.2 percent ($151.8 billion) consists of cuts to another 10 or so Medicare services, The Washington Post reports.
  • It would be bad enough if Obama redistributed these cuts within the Medicare system. Instead, he siphons much of this money from Medicare into Obamacare, a brand-new entitlement, many of whose beneficiaries are not even senior citizens.
Even worse, in what would constitute criminal fraud in the private sector, Obama simultaneously applies the same funds to Medicare and Obamacare.

"So, are you using it (this money) to save Medicare or are you using it to fund healthcare reform?" Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., asked Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at a House hearing in March 2011. "Which one?"

"Both," Sebelius confessed.

"So," Shimkus replied, "you're double-counting."

Liberals are hammering Romney, Ryan and Republicans for something that they, in fact, already have done. This mental condition is known among psychologists as "projection." When it comes to gutting Medicare, Obama and the left are projecting enough to fill an IMAX screen.

Deroy Murdock is a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University. E-mail him at deroy.Murdock@gmail.com. Read more reports from Deroy Murdock — Click Here Now.

© Scripps Howard News Service

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