View Full Version : Campaign Whoppers! Both Sides- From Factcheck.org

Gayle in MD
10-31-2010, 04:11 PM
Health Care Retreads

Misrepresentations of the new health care law have been a staple of Republican campaigns. Some ads go so far as to claim (falsely) that the law would cause Medicare patients to lose their doctors, or (also falsely) that Democrats favored giving Viagra to sex offenders, or (false again) that typical families will pay $2,100 more in premiums.

A common theme is that the law contains a $500 billion Medicare "cut" that will translate into less benefits, but thatís misleading. The law calls for reducing the future growth of Medicare spending over the next 10 years by about 7 percent. Plus, the law stipulates that guaranteed Medicare benefits wonít be reduced, and it adds some new benefits, such as improved coverage for pharmaceuticals. Those seniors on Medicare Advantage plans (one out of four beneficiaries), however, will likely see their extra benefits reduced. These private insurance plans currently receive higher payments from the government than traditional Medicare, and the law decreases those payments over time. In addition, the law calls for reducing the future growth in payments to hospitals and other providers. While experts say some hospitals will have trouble coping with the new spending restraints, ads go too far in claiming that the law will "gut Medicare" or "hurt the quality of our care."

Taxing the Truth, Part I

Another misleading Republican theme is that Democrats are about to unleash a huge tax increase on the typical family, or on small-business owners. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said "Democrats are poised now to cause this largest tax increase in U.S. history." Similar claims have been spread by Republican TV ads, by widely forwarded chain e-mails, in interviews and even by "tweets" and other social media.

Itís true that the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 are set to expire at the end of this year, under terms set in law by a Republican Congress and President George W. Bush. But Democrats have said all along that they donít intend to let all of the tax cuts expire, or even most of them. President Obama and most House and Senate Democrats favor keeping all the cuts that apply to taxpayers who earn less than $250,000 as a couple, or $200,000 as single filers. In addition, a number of conservative Democrats (or those nervous about reelection) even say they favor extending the cuts for everybody ó including those at the top ó at least for another year or two. A lame-duck Congress will decide, after the election.

As for the claim that Democrats favor "a huge tax hike on small business," in the words of one ad, thatís also wrong for the vast majority of small-business owners. Only about 3 percent of those with any business income showing on their personal returns would see a tax increase. Republicans retreated to claiming that half the small-business "income" ó as opposed to business owners ó would see an increase. But thatís wrong, too. Much of the "small"-business income they are counting comes from businesses with yearly income of $50 million or more ó which is big business income in just about anybodyís book.

Taxing the Truth, Part II

In dozens of TV ads, Democrats or Democratic-leaning groups accused Republicans of favoring a 23 percent national sales tax, as though such a thing would come in addition to existing taxes. The attacks (which were also made in fancy mail pieces) amounted to a misrepresentation of the "FairTax" proposal. The claims failed to mention that the sales tax would replace ó not add to ó existing federal income and payroll taxes. Democrats also left out any mention of offsetting rebates designed to mitigate the increased cost of essentials like food and medicine ó a main feature of the FairTax proposal.

In the past, weíve written about the FairTax from the other side: In 2007, we pointed out misleading claims by FairTax proponents. We noted that a bipartisan panel of tax experts ó put together by President George W. Bush ó had rejected the idea and said the tax would have to amount to at least 34 percent (not 23 percent) of the sales price of goods and services to raise enough revenue to replace other federal taxes. But thatís no excuse for misrepresenting the proposal, so this year our darts are pointed the other way.