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Dems lying about Ryan's plan?

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
December 21, 2011

Democrats for months have lambasted Paul Ryan and other Republicans for their vote on the House budget, which in part would have reinvented Medicare.


"Americans across the country are outraged at Ryan's plan to end Medicare," according to a fundraising email sent by the Rob Zerban campaign.


Zerban, a Democrat, is the only candidate running against Republican Ryan for Wisconsin's 1st District seat in the November 2012 elections. His attacks have echoed Democrats' attacks on other House Republicans nationwide.


Zerban in April launched the website HandsOffMy


Grandma.com in response to Ryan's Medicare ideas.


Trouble is, the claim that Republicans voted to end Medicare is false, according to Politifact, an award-winning fact-checking project at the St. Petersburg Times.


Politifact on Monday announced that the Democrats' claim is its "Lie of the Year."


The Democrats ignore the fact that those 55 and older would remain on traditional Medicare and that even with the privatized system under Ryan's bill, younger people would still receive a guarantee of care, according to Politifact.


The New York Times' Paul Krugman, a prominent critic of Ryan's economic theories, came out strongly Monday, defending the it-would-kill-Medicare claim.


"Republicans voted to replace Medicare with a voucher system to buy private insurance, and not just that, a voucher system in which the value of the vouchers would systematically lag the cost of health care, so that there was no guarantee that seniors would even be able to afford private insurance," Krugman wrote.


Zerban's campaign issued a statement when asked for a response Tuesday: "Wisconsin seniors are not interested in games of semantics—whether Paul Ryan 'ends' Medicare or 'ends Medicare as we know it.' Wisconsin seniors understand Paul Ryan's radical and unpopular plan erodes the core of the program while keeping the name Medicare."


The Medicare plan is part of Ryan's larger plan to fend off what he calls an impending debt crisis. It has not been enacted.


Democrats seized the Medicare issue in April and have hammered on it ever since.


"It was the latest chapter in a long-running 'Mediscare' strategy to frighten senior citizens that their benefits are in jeopardy if they support Republicans," Politifact's editors wrote.


Last week, Ryan announced a change in his plan, allowing people to choose to stay in traditional Medicare. He even found a Democratic co-sponsor, Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon.


Zerban immediately questioned Wyden's status as a Democrat.


Some Democratic apologists complain that Ryan made a video urging supporters to vote on Politifact's website for the end-Medicare claim to be the lie of the year, which he did.


However, Politifact's poll was separate from the decision of its editors to name the lie of the year, said Politifact's Bill Adair, in an email Tuesday.


"(The poll) was not a factor in our decision, which is our determination of the most significant falsehood of the year," Adair wrote.


The top vote-getter in Politifact's readers poll was the Republican claim that the economic stimulus created "zero jobs." The Medicare claim was No. 3 in the poll.



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