Fact checkers pick on Democrats, too
The Kansas City Star
It may or may not be of consolation to the GOP that fact checkers are hard at work at the Democratic National Convention, too.
One false claim especially deserves to be pointed out. It’s not quite as egregious as the Republican’s untrue and oft-repeated contention that the Obama administration is doing away with the work requirements in the welfare program. But it’s up there.
This would be the assertion that the Romney-Ryan Medicare plan would cost seniors an additional $6,400 a year.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius made that claim when she spoke Tuesday, and other Democrats have voiced it also.
As Sarah Kliff of the Washington Post’s Wonkblog explains: “It’s a great rhetorical attack, but there’s one big problem: That $6,400 figure comes from an independent analysis of the budget that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) authored in 2011. And that budget looks pretty different from the plan that Gov. Mitt Romney has outlined.”
A budget Ryan wrote in 2011 did away with the public Medicare program and replaced it with vouchers for seniors. Analyses of the plan found that beneficiaries would have to pay in the ballpark of $6,400 more a year. Newt Gingrich, running for the GOP nomination for president, described the plan as “right-wing social engineering.
Ryan later authored a plan with Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, which would make private plans available to Medicare-eligible seniors but also retain a public option similar to the traditional Medicare program. That concept seems to be closer to what Romney, the GOP nominee, has in mind.
There are a lot of “what-if’s” in the public-private hybrid plan that make it difficult to say what it would cost seniors.
Kliff again: “Could traditional Medicare become more expensive than the private plans? That’s certainly a possibility — the Medicare voucher seniors receive could fail to cover the cost of purchasing the public option. And Romney does turn the plan from a defined-benefit to a defined-contribution, which substantially changes Medicare. But it doesn’t eliminate traditional Medicare as an option, and the $6,400 figure is an estimate of an entirely different plan.”
The realities of the nation’s finances and heath care costs tell us that seniors are going to have to pay more for Medicare in the future. But the $6,400 figure is wrong, and Democrats should quit using it.