Home 2012 races Obama Campaign: “Romney’s Debate on the ‘Issues’ Consists of False Attacks”

Obama Campaign: “Romney’s Debate on the ‘Issues’ Consists of False Attacks”

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From the Obama campaign:

 

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For Immediate Release: Monday, August 20, 2012  

Contact: Obama for America Press (312) 985-1198

 

MEMO: Romney’s Debate on the “Issues” Consists of False Attacks

 

CHICAGO — Governor Romney recently announced that he would run a substantive, issues-focused campaign that laid out the key economic choices facing voters in November. Yet Romney has failed to add any substantive policy ideas to the discussion since that announcement. Instead, he has shifted his campaign to focus on two demonstrably false attacks that undermine his credibility.

 

As President Obama said today, addressing Romney’s falsehoods: “You can’t just make stuff up.” To outline the Romney campaign’s flagrant attempts to mislead Americans, Obama for America today released a memo from Policy Director James Kvaal detailing on the truth in the face of these baseless and hypocritical attacks.

                                        

Governor Romney has run a series of welfare reform ads making an attack that has been called false and misleading by the architects of welfare reform – both President Clinton and a Republican co-author of the legislation.  He has tried to attack President Obama’s initiative to help states move at least 20 percent more people from welfare to work – even though he asked even greater flexibility around work requirements and supported legislation that would have allowed governors to let people stay on welfare indefinitely.

 

Additionally, Governor Romney has put Congressman Ryan in the awkward position of attacking the $716 billion in Medicare savings that Ryan included in his own budget.  Congressman Ryan says he included it because it was in the “baseline” of the budget, but that claim doesn’t hold up to scrutiny because he everything else in the Affordable Care Act.  And the savings don’t cut benefits for seniors, they enhance them.  The health care law, getting waste and fraud out of the system, eliminating unnecessary subsidies to insurance companies and redirecting those funds to save seniors money on their prescription drugs, give them access to free preventive care and extend the life of the trust fund. Meanwhile, the Romney-Ryan budget would actually end Medicare as we know it by giving seniors a voucher instead of guaranteed benefits, raising their health care costs by thousands of dollars per year.

 

The nonpartisan AARP says the health care reform law strengthens Medicare by extending its solvency and cracking down on fraud and wasteful subsides to insurance companies. And the AARP also said that the Ryan plan would undermine Medicare and could lead to higher costs for seniors.

 

Below is the memo:

 

MONDAY, AUGUST 20,  2012

 

MEMORANDUM TO INTERESTED PARTIES

 

FROM:                       James Kvaal, Policy Director, Obama for America

 

SUBJECT:                Romney’s Debate on the “Issues” Consists of False Attacks

 

Governor Romney recently announced that he would run a substantive, issues-focused campaign laying out the key economic choices facing voters in November.  Yet Romney has failed to add any substantive policy ideas since that announcement, and his aides say we shouldn’t expect any new ideas in the remaining weeks. Instead, so far Romney’s so-called issue-based campaign has focused on two demonstrably false attacks.

 

First, Governor Romney has run a series of welfare ads that Bill Clinton called “not true” and conservative welfare expert Ron Haskins called “very misleading.” In fact, President Obama offered states assistance to move at least 20 percent more people from welfare to work. But Romney has criticized this effort, even though as governor he requested even greater flexibility that could have ended time limits on welfare, ending welfare reform as we know it.

 

Now, Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan are cynically attacking the president for reforms that made Medicare more sustainable.  They are hoping they can distract voters from their plan to end Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher program. 

 

The reality is that President Obama has reformed Medicare to strengthen benefits for seniors and extend the program’s solvency, and he’s doing it by getting waste and fraud out of the Medicare system and eliminating unnecessary insurance company subsidies. He is redirecting those resources to save seniors money on their prescription drugs, give them access to free preventive care and extend the life of the Medicare Trust Fund.  By repealing Obamacare, the Romney-Ryan plan would raise current seniors’ costs by at least $4,200 and let Medicare go insolvent in 2016. And ultimately it would transform Medicare into a voucher with no guaranteed benefit.

 

Four Things You Need to Know About Medicare

 

In Paul Ryan, Romney chose a running mate best known for his plan to turn Medicare into a voucher system that ends guaranteed benefits for seniors – and now, unsurprisingly, Romney is trying desperately to turn a negative into a positive. But his false claims get the impact of Obamacare on seniors exactly backwards. That’s why The New York Times said the attacks are “growing more heated and inaccurate by the day.”[1]  E.J. Dionne of TheWashington Post called them “simply absurd.”[2]

 

Seniors won’t be fooled. Here are four things you need to know:

 

1. The AARP Supported Obamacare and Opposes Ryan’s Medicare Plan. Obamacare strengthened the solvency of the Medicare while improving benefits for seniors by taking on insurance company subsidies and waste, fraud, and abuse. That’s why the AARP endorsed it, writing:

 

“The legislative package cracks down on insurance company abuses and protects and strengthens guaranteed benefits in Medicare, the program millions of our members depend on and in which millions more will soon enroll. It closes the dreaded Medicare Part D ‘doughnut hole,’ a gap in prescription drug coverage that is life-threatening for many.…  And it improves efforts to crack down on fraud and waste in Medicare, strengthening the program for today’s seniors and future generations.”[3]

 

But the AARP expressed “serious concerns” with the budget authored by Paul Ryan. It said of its voucher proposal, “Converting Medicare to a series of private options would undermine the market power of Medicare and could lead to higher costs for seniors.”[4]                                                                         

 

2. Obamacare Improved Medicare Benefits.  Thanks to Obamacare, people with Medicare have better coverage today.  These reforms include:

 

·         No-cost preventive care, such as cancer screenings, to help prevent chronic diseases that can cost Medicare billions of dollars.

·         Reducing prescription drug prices by closing the so-called “doughnut hole” coverage gap.  Last year, nearly 3.6 million people received relief on their drug costs, saving an average of $600.

·         Reducing premiums. Because seniors pay a share of Medicare costs, the savings from reducing waste benefit seniors as well as taxpayers. 

 

By repealing Obamacare, the Romney-Ryan plan would raise costs on the average current retiree by $4,200 over 11 years.[5]

 

3. Obamacare Extended Medicare Solvency by Eight Years.  Obamacare extends Medicare solvency by eight years, while strengthening seniors’ benefits, because it reforms the program to emphasize quality care and end wasteful insurance company subsidies. Claims that Obamacare “raided” Medicare or diverted payroll taxes from the trust fund are cynical attempts to mislead seniors. Every dollar bound for the trust fund stays there and gets spent on Medicare benefits for beneficiaries. 

 

The common-sense Medicare reforms saving $716 billion over the next decade were supported by Republicans only months ago: they were included in Paul Ryan’s budget proposal passed by House Republicans and described as “marvelous” by Mitt Romney. And by now proposing to repeal them, Romney and Ryan would bankrupt the Medicare Trust Fund by 2016.

 

Experts agree that Obamacare strengthened Medicare solvency. According to Robert Reischauer, a Medicare trustee and then the president of the Urban Institute, “the best estimates, our estimates and CBO's estimates, of the Affordable Care Act are that they extended the life of the trust fund, and were the Affordable Care Act to be repealed, the date at which the trust fund would become depleted would move from 2024 to 2016.”[6] According to the Centers on Medicare and Medicaid Services, “Without the Affordable Care Act, the HI Trust Fund would expire eight years earlier, in 2016.”[7] And Paul Van de Water of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities calls claims that the health care law did not shore up Medicare finances “flatly false.”[8]

 

The health care law accomplished this additional solvency by eliminating waste and inefficiency. Specifically it:

 

·         Eliminated $156 billion in excess subsidies for private insurance companies, so we stop giving them $1,000 more per senior to deliver the same guaranteed benefits.[9]  Today, Medicare Advantage is stronger than ever, with premiums that are 16 percent lower and enrollment that is 17 percent higher than before Obamacare.[10]

 

·         Saved $415 billion by reforming how Medicare pays doctors, hospitals, and other health care professionals to reward high-quality care, not just the volume of services provided.[11]  Despite the recent over-heated partisan rhetoric regarding these reforms, the Affordable Care Act was endorsed by health care providers including hospitals, doctors, and nurses. 

 

·         Saved $56 billion in Medicare and Medicaid by covering the uninsured, reducing the uncompensated costs for hospitals and making the system more affordable for all of us.[12]

 

·         Saved additional resources by cracking down on health care fraud, improving the quality of care by promoting coordination, reducing repeat hospital admissions, and reducing hospital-associated infections.[13]

 

4. The Romney-Ryan Voucher Plan Would End Guaranteed Benefits and Raise Seniors’ Costs. For future retirees, it gets worse. The Romney-Ryan budget would end guaranteed benefits and replace them with vouchers that will likely force seniors to pay more for their health care. Independent experts found that a plan authored by Paul Ryan in 2011 – which Romney said he would sign into law — would increase retires’ costs by $6,350 a year.[14] In fact, since it costs more to use insurance companies to deliver the same benefit, the only way a voucher can save money for taxpayers is by shifting costs to seniors.

 

While Romney claims to preserve traditional Medicare as an option, he admits that seniors may need to pay more to remain in Medicare.[15] The reality is that traditional Medicare will enter a death spiral as the healthiest seniors choose other options. As Paul Van de Water points out, the law would “shift substantial costs to Medicare beneficiaries … likely lead to the gradual demise of traditional Medicare [and] produce few budgetary savings.”[16] 

 

Welfare

 

Mitt Romney has now spent more than $7 million on false advertising related to welfare reform.  Bill Clinton has called his ads “not true.”[17]  Independent fact checkers have called the ads “pants on fire” and a “drastic distortion.”[18] And Republican welfare expert Ron Haskins called the ad “very misleading.”[19]  Haskins states that there was “no plausible scenario” under which the administration’s actions attacked welfare reform.[20]

 

The 1996 welfare reforms established work requirements to move people off welfare and into jobs.  For years, governors of both parties have requested more flexibility in operating their welfare programs, including most recently the Republican governors of Utah and Nevada.  This summer, Secretary Sebelius announced that she would consider these requests, but warned: “Our goal is to accelerate job placement by moving more Americans from welfare to work, and no policy which undercuts that goal or waters down work requirements will be considered.”[21]

 

Ironically, in 2005, Governor Romney was one of 28 governors who sought even greater flexibility. That letter explicitly requested greater flexibility around work requirements – including the definition of work and the treatment of part-time jobs – and supported legislation that would even allow states to waive the 60-month limit on cash assistance, the central component of welfare reform.

 

1.       The New York Times, Truth and Lies About Medicare (2012) http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/19/opinion/sunday/truth-and-lies-about-medicare.html?ref=editorials

2.       The Washington Post, False Piety and the Medicare Debate (2012)

3.       http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/ej-dionne-false-piety-and-the-medicare-debate/2012/08/19/37de4d6a-ea2d-11e1-9ddc-340d5efb1e9c_story.html?hpid=z2

4.       AARP, AARP Statement on Historic Health Insurance Reform Package (2010)

5.       http://www.aarp.org/about-aarp/press-center/info-03-2010/hcr_package_support.html 

6.       AARP, Letter To Members of Congress (2012)

7.        http://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/politics/advocacy/2012-06/01/house-concurrent-resolution-budget-fy-2013-aarp.pdf

8.       Department of Health and Human Services, Medicare Beneficiary Savings and the Affordable Care Act (2012) http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/2012/MedicareBeneficiarySavings/ib.shtml

9.       U.S. Government Printing Office, 2011 Medicare Trustee Report (2011)

10.    http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-112hhrg70887/html/CHRG-112hhrg70887.htm

11.    Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Medicare Stable, But Requires Strengthening (2012) http://www.cms.gov/apps/media/press/release.asp?Counter=4341&intNumPerPage=10&checkDate=&checkKey&srchType=1&numDays=3500&srchOpt=0&srchData=&keywordType=All&chkNewsType=1%2C+2%2C+3%2C+4%2C+5&intPage=&showAll=&pYear=&year=&desc=&cboOrder=date 

12.    Off the Charts, Health Reform Strengthens Medicare, Doesn’t “Rob” It (2012) http://www.offthechartsblog.org/health-reform-strengthens-medicare-doesnt-rob-it/

13.    Congressional Budget Office, Honorable John Boehner (2012) http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/43471-hr6079.pdf

14.    Department of Health and Human Services, Medicare Advantage Premiums Down 7 percent on Average, Enrollment up 10 percent (2012)http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2012pres/02/20120201a.html

15.    Congressional Budget Office, Honorable John Boehner (2012) http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/43471-hr6079.pdf

16.    Congressional Budget Office, Honorable John Boehner (2012) http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/43471-hr6079.pdf

17.    Congressional Budget Office, Honorable John Boehner (2012) http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/43471-hr6079.pdf

18.    Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Proposed Cap on Federal Spending Would Force Deep Cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security (2011)http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3471

19.    MittRomney.com, Medicare (2012) http://www.mittromney.com/issues/medicare 

20.    Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, What You Need to Know About Premium Support (2012) http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3704#_ftnref1

21.    Think Progress, Former President Clinton Blasts Romney’s ‘Disappointing’ New Welfare Claim: ‘That Is Not True’       (2012) http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/08/08/656061/clinton-romney-welfare/

22.    PolitiFact.com, Mitt Romney Says Barack Obama’s Plan for Welfare Reform: “They just send you your Check” (2012) http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/aug/07/mitt-romney/mitt-romney-says-barack-obamas-plan-abandons-tenet/

23.    FactCheck.org, Does Obama’s Plan ‘Gut Welfare Reform’? (2012) http://factcheck.org/2012/08/does-obamas-plan-gut-welfare-reform/

24.    National Public Radio, Romney Ad Accuses Obama Of Eroding Welfare Law (2012) http://www.npr.org/2012/08/08/158405559/romneys-welfare-ad-slams-obama

25.    ABC News, Fact Check: Does Obama Want to ‘Gut’ Welfare Reform? (2012) http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/08/fact-check-does-obama-want-to-gut-welfare-reform/

 

 

 


 



[3] AARP, AARP Statement on Historic Health Insurance Reform Package (2010)

http://www.aarp.org/about-aarp/press-center/info-03-2010/hcr_package_support.html 

[5] Department of Health and Human Services, Medicare Beneficiary Savings and the Affordable Care Act (2012) http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/2012/MedicareBeneficiarySavings/ib.shtml

[6] U.S. Government Printing Office, 2011 Medicare Trustee Report (2011)

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CHRG-112hhrg70887/html/CHRG-112hhrg70887.htm

[8]  Off the Charts, Health Reform Strengthens Medicare, Doesn’t “Rob” It (2012) http://www.offthechartsblog.org/health-reform-strengthens-medicare-doesnt-rob-it/

[9] Congressional Budget Office, Honorable John Boehner (2012) http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/43471-hr6079.pdf

[10] Department of Health and Human Services, Medicare Advantage Premiums Down 7 percent on Average, Enrollment up 10 percent (2012)http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2012pres/02/20120201a.html

[11] Congressional Budget Office, Honorable John Boehner (2012) http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/43471-hr6079.pdf

[12] Congressional Budget Office, Honorable John Boehner (2012) http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/43471-hr6079.pdf

[13] Congressional Budget Office, Honorable John Boehner (2012) http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/43471-hr6079.pdf

[14] Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Proposed Cap on Federal Spending Would Force Deep Cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security (2011)http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3471

[15] MittRomney.com, Medicare (2012) http://www.mittromney.com/issues/medicare 

[16] Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, What You Need to Know About Premium Support (2012) http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3704#_ftnref1

[17] Think Progress, Former President Clinton Blasts Romney’s ‘Disappointing’ New Welfare Claim: ‘That Is Not True’       (2012) http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/08/08/656061/clinton-romney-welfare/

[18] PolitiFact.com, Mitt Romney Says Barack Obama’s Plan for Welfare Reform: “They just send you your Check” (2012) http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/aug/07/mitt-romney/mitt-romney-says-barack-obamas-plan-abandons-tenet/

[19] FactCheck.org, Does Obama’s Plan ‘Gut Welfare Reform’? (2012) http://factcheck.org/2012/08/does-obamas-plan-gut-welfare-reform/

[20] National Public Radio, Romney Ad Accuses Obama Of Eroding Welfare Law (2012) http://www.npr.org/2012/08/08/158405559/romneys-welfare-ad-slams-obama

[21] ABC News, Fact Check: Does Obama Want to ‘Gut’ Welfare Reform? (2012) http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/08/fact-check-does-obama-want-to-gut-welfare-reform/