Chris Wallace discussed Medicare yesterday with spokesmen for both the Obama and Romney campaigns on Fox News Sunday. However, while the guest lineup may have been fair and balanced (never a given), the scrutiny over Medicare platforms was not.
Democrat Robert Gibbs went first. Wallace began the interview by playing a clip of Ryan’s speech in Florida yesterday where he trotted out his mother as someone who relies on Medicare and then wrongly said President Obama “raids” $716 billion from Medicare to pay for Obamacare.
PolitiFact debunked a similar claim by Mitt Romney as “mostly false,” noting:
Neither Obama nor his health care law literally cut a dollar amount from the Medicare program’s budget. Rather, the health care law instituted a number of changes to try to bring down future health care costs in the program. …What kind of spending reductions are we talking about? They were mainly aimed at insurance companies and hospitals, not beneficiaries. …The health care law scales back the payments to private insurers.
Under the new law, the overall Medicare budget is projected to go up for the foreseeable future. The health care law tries to limit that growth, making it less than it would have been without the law, but not reducing its overall budget. So claims that Obama would “cut” Medicare need more explanation to be fully accurate. In the past, we’ve rated similar statements Half True or Mostly False, depending on the wording and context.
But instead of adding that context for the “we report, you decide” network’s viewers, Wallace merely asked Gibbs for “your reaction.” Wallace not only used the term “cut” as his own in this discussion, he overlooked the fact that those “cuts” were retained in the Ryan budget.
Gibbs brought that point up at about 5:20, when he asked Wallace why Paul Ryan kept the $700 billion in Medicare cuts in two of his own budgets.
Wallace tried to argue on Romney/Ryan’s behalf: “Part of it is, he has to accept the current law and what’s in the baseline.”
Gibbs said, “Absolutely not," (and his claim seems to be backed up by another PolitiFact report referencing Ryan's remarks that he kept the cuts to extend Medicare's solvency) and there was more back and forth that included Gibbs asking why, if his cuts are so onerous, AARP supports the Obama plan and Wallace saying testily, “I get to ask the questions here… I get to ask the questions!”
Finally, the discussion on this topic concluded with Gibbs saying, “If all this was so egregious, Chris, why did Paul Ryan seek never to undo these cuts?”
Wallace answered, “These are good questions, and when I have (Romney campaign spokesman) Ed Gillespie, I promise I will ask some of them.”
But he overlooked those two.
When he wasn’t suggesting campaign strategy to the Romney campaign, Wallace did find time to work in a few tough questions for Gillespie. He asked how Romney plans to keep Medicare Part A solvent if none of the Ryan reforms kick in until after its projected date of insolvency. Gillespie answered by saying that Romney would raise the age of eligibility. (Think Progress has a good, concise analysis of why this would raise costs for seniors yet offer only modest cost savings.).
Then Gillespie reiterated the “raiding” myth:
As we heard Robert Gibbs say, they are funding ObamaCare by taking $716 billion out of Medicare now, current beneficiaries affected by it and people who paid into that program for guaranteed health insurance are now seeing that money go to other purposes and that’s wrong and we welcome this debate and I think that’s why you see Governor Romney, Paul Ryan in Florida yesterday talking about the need to save this for future generations, to repeal Obamacare and restore those cuts and reform it to save it.
Wallace did not challenge that statement, nor did he ask why, if it’s so awful, Ryan kept the cuts in his own budget.