WashPost Fact Check: Tune Out Political Medicare Ads

Thursday, 09 Jun 2011 05:11 PM

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Perhaps voters should just make a refrigerator run when political ads involving Medicare appear on their televisions. Both parties are waging war with “half-truths, misleading claims and outright lies,” The Washington Post concluded in a fact check of competing ads.

The Post derideded ads from both the Democrats and Republicans four Pinocchios for the whoppers they tell. The Post noted that, although it didn’t have a chance to fact check the Medicare ads that Rep. Kathy Hochul, D-N.Y., ran in her upset winning campaign in a special election, many of them “would have merited three or four Pinocchios under our scale.”

The Post did assign many Pinocchios to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathy Sebelius and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., for mischaracterizing Wisconsin GOP Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to remake Medicare.

The National Republican Campaign Committee now is running ads targeting nine Democrats, saying that they would “decimate” Medicare. Hochul used the same word in campaign news releases, the Post reported.

“Washington Democrats already cut $500 billion from Medicare with their government takeover of health care, and [insert name of Democrat X] is making it worse,” the script says, according to the Post.  “[Democrat X] backs a partisan plan that the media says would quote ‘decimate Medicare.’ The [Democrat X]-backed plan will cut Medicare benefits by 17 percent and lead to ‘political rationing’ of health care . . . taking personal health care choices away from seniors.”

The Post’s fact checker commented: “One certainly can argue whether the ideas are good or bad — or go far enough — but it is disingenuous for Republicans to claim that either a) there is no Democratic plan or b) the Democrats want to steer Medicare on a course toward bankruptcy.

“The best advice to voters might be to mute the sound whenever a Medicare ad by either party comes on television,” the Post concluded. “If the Hochul campaign or this NRCC ad are any indication, the battle will be waged with half-truths, misleading claims and outright lies. Four Pinocchios to the NRCC and to [belatedly] Hochul.”

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