Politics & Policy

Physician, Heal Thyself

Congressman John Shimkus (R., Ill.) and Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius
Democrats engage in projection on Medicare cuts.

Presumptive GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan should begin his campaign rallies by blasting Eric Clapton’s recording of “Before You Accuse Me (Take a Look at Yourself).” This blues tune perfectly reflects the neurosis of President 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” — also known as Obamacare.

For starters, 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 Elmendorf determined that if Congress repealed Obamacare, “spending for Medicare would increase by an estimated $716 billion over that 2013–2022 period.”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 ten-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 the Post’s 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 health care 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 slashed payments to home health providers.

‐ An additional 5 percent in cuts ($35.8 billion) affects Disproportionate Share 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 ten or so Medicare services, the Washington Post reports.

It would have been bad enough if Obama had redistributed the funds from these cuts, but kept them 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 to Obamacare.

“So,” Congressman John Shimkus (R., Ill.) asked Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius at a House hearing on March 3, 2011, “are you using it [this money] to save Medicare, or are you using it to fund health-care reform? Which one?”

Secretary Sebelius confessed: “Both.”

“So,” Shimkus replied, “you’re double-counting.”

Liberals are hammering Romney, Ryan, and Republicans for something that they themselves 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.

— New York commentator Deroy Murdock is a Fox News contributor, a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service, and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online, and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research.

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