Human Events Blog

The $6,400 Medicare lie

This weekend, the Obama campaign rolled out another fact-challenged effort to change the subject from ObamaCare’s $716 billion Medicare raid.  One of its claims is that, under Mitt Romney’s Medicare reform proposals, “Insurance companies could just keep raising rates… Instead of a guarantee, seniors could pay $6,400 more a year.”

Obama has been chanting the $6,400 figure quite a bit lately, apparently on the advice of political handlers who think a lie sounds more believable if a fixed dollar figure is attached.  But the Wall Street Journal efficiently debunked this Obama talking point a week ago – it’s a misrepresentation based on CBO scoring, not of Romney’s plan, or even the proposals his running mate Paul Ryan authored with Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), but an older iteration of Ryan’s plan.

In essence, the Congressional Budget Office compared the projected cost of health care ten years from now with the size of the subsidy Ryan’s 2011 proposal allocated for the average 65-year-old Medicare recipient, and concluded the difference worked out to $6,400 per beneficiary.

The CBO’s static analysis models are not good at projecting the probable costs of a system that incorporates free market competition.  The Journal notes that the popular Medicare Advantage program – which ObamaCare is killing off – harnesses market competition to a limited degree, and found private sector plans bidding up to 13 percent cheaper than the government’s baseline cost projections.

In any event, Ryan retooled his proposal for 2012, and the result bore not the slightest resemblance to the already dubious CBO scoring that yielded the $6,400 figure.  Furthermore, Mitt Romney is the presidential candidate, not Paul Ryan, and Romney’s proposals are not identical to Ryan’s plan, in either its 2011 or 2012 iterations.

Consider the breathtaking depth of Barack Obama’s lie: he’s using debatable scoring of an obsolete version of a plan written by someone else to attack Romney.  (And that, of course, is layered on top of the point Democrats seem completely incapable of dealing with honestly: neither Romney nor Ryan’s proposals make any changes whatsoever to Medicare for existing beneficiaries.)  What would Obama say if someone dusted off a two-year-old proposal from Joe Biden and used it in a campaign ad to attack Obama’s Medicare plans?  Oh, wait, that’s right: no one expects a proposal from Joe Biden for anything more complicated that ordering lunch, and Obama doesn’t have a Medicare plan.

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