Saturday, June 9, 2012

Did Dean Heller Vote to Cut Medicare?

Silver Senator Note:

Yes, twice, according to AP, Wall Street Journal and Reno Gazette-Journal, who gave it 7/10 on the Truth Meter.

This is important for all voters who suffered healthcare costs rising in double digits with diminishing healthcare results.

America spends the most for healthcare in the world, yet sits near the bottom of developed nations in infant health and life expectancy, a very real election issue: 

When will we voters hold our elected public servants accountable?

The two National Committee Party Candidates want to either raise debts, regulations, spending and taxes, or promise to cut them, as they did for two generations, with increasingly disastrous results.

There is another Constitutional approach to health, justice, life, liberty, peace and prosperity represented by the Silver Senator serving people, not corporation, foundation or union special interests.

We can send this to friends and family and vote for freedom right now, or suffer the same tired old candidates and consequences:

Hat Tip to SHG: 4:33

Fact Checker: Did Heller vote for or against Medicare cuts?

10:03 AM, May 29, 2012   |  
Dean Heller
Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., was the only member of Congress to vote for the Paul Ryan budget [with Medicare cuts] twice. / AP file

ask fact checker

Mark Robison is the Reno Gazette-Journal’s community analysis writer. 
Fact Checker is our weekly analysis on whether the facts and figures floated in the media are true. 

Have something you think we need to examine? Email or call             775-846-5368      .

The claim

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., celebrates that he voted to restore $500 billion in Medicare cuts when he also voted for the same cuts twice.


The background

Heller is running against Democrat Shelley Berkley for one of Nevada’s two U.S. Senate seats (Democrat Harry Reid holds the other one).

Heller sent out a mailer last month touting his accomplishments, including that he “voted to restore $500 billion back to Medicare that was cut by the president’s healthcare law.”

Zac Petkanas, senior communications adviser to the Nevada State Democratic Party, contacted Fact Checker to look into the statement. He said Heller “voted twice for those very same ‘cuts.’”

Petkanas put the word “cuts” in quote marks because the so-called Obamacare legislation didn’t call for cuts in the Medicare budget but for changes that are expected to lead to about $500 billion in less growth in Medicare spending.

The Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan organization charged with analyzing the financial effects of legislation, says that spending on Medicare will slow by about seven percent over the next decade under Obamacare. 

It says this will result in Medicare costing about $7.1 trillion instead of $7.6 trillion over the next 10 years.

Republicans said this half-trillion-dollar difference is a cut in the program whereas 
Democrats called it savings from new policies and efficiencies. 

You can decide whether you think they are cuts or savings. 

It doesn’t matter for this Fact Checker, but let’s use “cuts” for consistency.

The claim under consideration is whether Heller is claiming to have fought against these cuts while simultaneously voting for them, twice.

The first part is undisputedly true. 

As Heller’s Washington-based spokesman Stewart Bybee told Fact Checker, “Senator Heller has voted to repeal the president’s healthcare law in its entirety, which would restore the $500 billion cut from Medicare.”

Now for the second part, which involves the budget plan proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc.

The Associated Press reported on it: 

“In a postelection reversal, House Republicans are supporting nearly $450 billion in Medicare cuts that they criticized vigorously last fall when Democrats and President Barack Obama passed them as part of their controversial health care law.”

The Wall Street Journal wrote: 

“Last fall, Republicans spent millions on TV ads attacking Democrats for cutting Medicare.

Those cuts — which reduced reimbursements to drug companies, hospitals and insurance companies and totaled about $500 billion over 10 years —
were made to pay for the new subsidies to younger, uninsured Americans. …

“But Republicans may not be all that hostile to those reductions after all. … (Ryan’s)
plan keeps in place the Medicare reductions.”

Heller — who switched from the House to the Senate when he replaced John Ensign
— told the Associated Press about the Ryan budget, 

“I’m proud to be the only member of Congress who will get to vote for it twice.”
OK, so Obamacare included $500 billion in cuts to Medicare and Heller proudly
opposed them. 

Basically those same cuts were included in the Ryan plan and he
proudly supported that. 

How to reconcile this?

Bybee said that Obamacare is the law of the land and the Republican budget doesn’t
address the Medicare cuts. He gave the analogy of the FDA. A vote for or against the budget — which doesn’t address the FDA — is not a vote for or against the FDA
because it’s not mentioned in the budget.

This argument is problematic because it’s not simply that the Medicare savings were
not addressed in the budget — they were intentionally spared.
Consider this passage from the Associated Press story mentioned above: 

“Ryan’s spokesman, Conor Sweeney, said the cuts are virtually the only part of ‘Obamacare’that the Wisconsin Republican preserved when he drafted his budget.”
Bybee repeated that the mailer’s reference to protecting Medicare relates only to
Heller’s vote to repeal Obamacare.
As for the budget vote, he said, “The budget is a broad document. It’s guidelines, not prescriptive policy. The generalization that is being made is that if it’s not specifically addressed then it’s a sign of support. That is simply not the case because that is not the function of a budget.”
And Bybee offers another analogy: “There are a lot of members of Congress that do
not like the Endangered Species Act. Under your premise, if funding is reduced for
enforcement, but the budget does not specifically repeal the program then it’s a
sign of support. (That’s) just not the case. The context that you are applying under
this scenario could apply to anything within the federal government.”
The verdict
Is Heller promoting his vote to restore cuts to Medicare even though he later voted on
a plan that went out of its way to keep those cuts?
Yes. A weak argument could be made that the Ryan plan doesn’t contain those cuts
and so Heller didn’t technically vote for them.

But to say a vote for a budget plan that intentionally and specifically and
prominently saves those Medicare cuts is in no way a vote in support of those cuts
doesn’t square with reality.

This wasn’t a budget compromise hammered out over weeks with both parties where each side had to agree to some things they didn’t like. This was crafted by Republicans to show their priorities for the nation, including on Medicare, where they went out
of their way to save the cuts Obama came up with.

Truth Meter: 7 out of 10

That rating, though, doesn’t get into whether there’s a problem with doing what
Heller did. 

Is it problematic for him to have his cake (“see how I fought Obama’s 
Medicare changes”) and eat it too (“the budget I supported that singled out
keeping those changes is just a budget and shouldn’t be construed as support for
those changes”)?

Let’s leave it this way: If Berkley or Reid voted for a plan that would get rid of X and
later twice voted for a plan that specifically supported X — and then appealed to
voters based on opposition to X — would you say that makes sense? 
Or would you say something’s fishy?

If you’d say Berkley and Reid were making sense, then what Heller did is good, too. If
you’d say Berkley and Reid were being misleading, then what Heller did is problematic, too.



ask fact checker

Mark Robison is the Reno Gazette-Journal’s community analysis writer. Fact Checker is our weekly analysis on whether the facts and figures floated in the media are true. Have something you think we need to examine? Email or call  775-846-5368       

  • Jim Roby · Top Commenter · Reno, Nevada
    Dean Heller votes the way he's told, and not by or for the citizens of Nevada. Heller is voting the way the Koch brothers, Grover Norquist and the rest of the tea baggers tell him....or else.

    Nevada needs a US Senator that represents us, the citizens of Nevada. Shelly Berkley 2012

  • Cory Farley · Top Commenter
    Apparently you still can't spell "Republican" without "perfidious." Reading this explanation is like walking a tightrope. Let your attention wander for a second, and it's over.

  • Rob E. Kirchner · University Of Nevada
    It's interesting how the press bends over backward to try and prove Republicans wrong. The medicare cuts were criticized because it's always an issue that Dems say they support; thus, criticizing them showed the Dems hypocracy. The cuts were a small part of the terrible (and soon unconstitutional) Obama care plan and the well thought out Ryan budget. To say that Heller was wrong to vote in against one and in favor of the other exposes the ever present Media Bias.

    • Karen Benson · Top Commenter
      Facts are facts and the Media has just reported them. Republicans believe in their ideology and truth and reasoning that contradicts must be wrong; they are unwilling to find a compromise or middle ground. They worship at the alter of Fox Noise lies and bigotry because it's easier to believe the lies that support their ideology than consider the merits of a contradictory positions.

  • Karen Benson · Top Commenter
    What is interesting is the “spin.” Republicans say they want entitlements to be cut, but when cuts for future Medicare spending are made, not even cuts to current spending by Democrats, Republicans flip flop and take the other side of the argument. The Ryan plan on the other hand which includes the very same cuts looks good to Republicans. It’s just an example of the games; the Republicans are playing to make Obama a one term president. Republicans have been exposed in their diabolical fiendish strategy that puts party ahead of country.

    Heller has signed on to this strategy and is just another Republican puppet. It used to be that candidates would disagree with their party on occasion but now they are afraid of being called a RINO by the Tea Party bullies who are being riled up by billionaires, like the Koch brothers, who have their own agendas and who are buying our elections for their own best interests.

    • Kelley Shewmaker · Top Commenter · Reno High School
      Okay Karen, you have added to my list of adjectives for Republican strategies (or "strateegery"?) with "diabolical fiendish"... Great post!

      It is hard for folks to recognize that the whole Grover Norquist affiliation and ongoing allegiance practically guarantees six figure money from Koch Brothers and big oil. Remember, Amodei received bucks from Koch, Exxon and big mining...

      Has anyone else noticed how the oil industry has started their campaign via TV ads painting themselves as warm and cuddly? Has anyone also noticed that as Washoe County has "battleground" fame now, OUR oil prices are a lot HIGHER than other areas? You see, high oil prices get blamed on a president (the president has the price stamper right there at his desk in the oval office) and the oil companies would add more PROFITS in a big big way with a Romney win. The oil companies humongous profits under Obama are just not enough... ah, greed - it's alive and well across the fruited plain.

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