GOP hits Dems over Medicare 'Lie of the Year'


Rep. Charles BoustanyCharles William BoustanyFormer lawmakers call on leadership to focus on unity Partial disengagement based on democratic characteristics: A new era of US-China economic relations Lobbying world MORE Jr. (R-La.) concurred.

"I hope it breaks through amid the noise that's out there. We need sober minds to come forward with real solutions that are going to solve these problems."

Still, Boustany doesn't expect PolitiFact's decision to change the tenor of the debate.

"We're going into a political year," he said, "and I expect you'll see a lot of heated political rhetoric short on real solutions."

The Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact has ruled against Republicans in the past, naming allegations that President Obama's healthcare law contains "death panels" and results in a "government takeover of healthcare" their lies of the year in 2009 and 2010. The website argues that the Ryan plan wouldn't affect people over the age of 55 and would subsidize private coverage for younger people, which it says isn't the same as ending Medicare.

Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerDemocrats eager to fill power vacuum after Pelosi exit Stopping the next insurrection Biden, lawmakers mourn Harry Reid MORE (R-Ohio), said he was "glad" that PolitiFact ruled that "Washington Democrats' demagogic attacks on the House-passed budget" are "inaccurate."

"I think that the fact that every bipartisan group that has looked fairly at the challenges facing our entitlement programs, including Medicare, has concluded that reform is necessary will probably carry more weight than this newspaper's opinion."

Steel added that he "certainly can't rule out" that Republicans will bring up Wyden's name as they fight back against Democratic attacks on their Medicare proposal.

Democrats, who have applauded PolitiFact in the past, aren't backing down from their attacks. 

The Ryan plan "would cost more seniors more money, the premium voucher would be inadequate, and I think it would be the end of Medicare as we've known it … that is an entitlement to the people who have paid for it," said Rep. Henry Waxman (Calif.), the top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee.

"If you're under 55, the Ryan plan ends Medicare," said Rep. Robert Andrews (D-N.J.). "Medicare means, when you get to be 55, you get to choose your own doctor and if the procedure's medically necessary, Medicare pays the bill. Period. It doesn't say you have to go through an insurance company, or through a review process or anything else."

Andrews predicted Wyden's proposal for an alternative to the Ryan plan that would preserve traditional Medicare as an option along with private coverage wouldn't get in the way of Democrats' message. 

"The fact that one Senate Democrat has a variation of that idea I don't think really changes the political perception," Andrews said. "Sen. Wyden has his views, but he's a caucus of one on this issue, as far as I can tell."