Election 2014  
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The Big, Racist Lie at the Center of the Romney-Ryan Campaign

How long can they get away with blatantly lying?

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The second thing that goes right back to the welfare attack is the claim that Republicans were making heavily in 2010 as well. Medicare cuts -- we can get to what they mean by Obama’s Medicare cuts -- are being used to take money away from virtuous retirees who worked their whole life and paid money into the system, and instead give the money to “those people.” The welfare people. Technically it’s the people who don’t qualify for Medicaid, but don’t have health insurance. It’s essentially the working poor. It’s those people who are not virtuous, hard-working retirees like you are. The ads are pretty blatant that Obamacare is not for you -- with a picture of an older white person on the screen. It’s pretty blatant.

It’s part of the general argument that Barack Obama is a radical redistributionist. He’s taking money away from older white folks to give to younger dark folks through unconditional welfare, through Obamacare, and through all these different means.

JH: Ryan has the same cuts in his budget, doesn’t he?

EK: Yeah, he’s trying to claim that he just assumed them as part of a budget baseline. Bark bark, woof woof. Romney is saying he’ll restore the cuts, but it’s important to understand what these cuts actually are. The single biggest chunk of the so-called “Obama Medicare cuts” is simply a reduction in this disproportionate subsidy the feds have been offering for what’s called Medicare Advantage plans, which is kind of a conservative pet rock policy idea that was included as part of a bipartisan bill years ago to let people use federal dollars to buy private insurance plans. This was on the theory that these plans would introduce competition into the system and reduce costs. Well, they haven’t. It’s been the opposite. These plans are significantly more expensive than traditional Medicare. So the administration quite properly said we’re going to cut back on the subsidies and not start offering more money for these plans than for traditional Medicare costs. That’s the biggest part of the cuts.

The second biggest part of the cuts is simply negotiated reductions in reimbursement rates for hospitals who accepted the deal because they’re going to have a lot more business under an expanded healthcare system, the Affordable Care Act. There are no cuts in benefits for anybody.

JH: That’s what I wanted to really stress. Not a red penny is coming out of seniors’ benefits.

EK: Unlike a premium support system in which you get what you get, and you make up the difference in the costs in between the premium support in what the government offers and what it costs to have an insurance. That erodes your benefits in a real way. The so-called Obamacare Medicare cuts don’t reduce anybody’s benefits. It turns out their cost estimates are wrong and it’s not going to hurt seniors.

JH: Another important thing to understand, and I don’t want to get too deep into the wonky weeds, but the Congressional Budget Office tells us that the Affordable Care Act, the so-called Obamacare, strengthens Medicare’s long term finances. It brings down the so-called payroll gap from something like 3.8% to 1.5% over the next 75 years. This is a huge, huge change that bolsters Medicare’s finances. This is a very key point to understand.

It seems like team Romney is just trying to muddy the waters. I think they hope that political reporters will just get bored by all this wonky stuff and end up reporting both sides are saying this, and at the end of the day voters won’t know who to blame. Do you think that’s going to work?

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