GOP to launch TV ad against McNerney Friday

The National Republican Congressional Committee will launch a three-week ad buy this Friday against Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, blasting his purported support of healthcare budgeting that the GOP says will let Medicare “go bankrupt.”

It’s clearly an effort to push back against criticisms leveled in recent weeks against House Republicans, whose budget plan calls for changing Medicare from a government-run system into a private subsidy or voucher system in which senior citizens would buy private health insurance.

Here’s the script:

Who do you trust with personal health care decisions? Your own doctor.

But if Jerry McNerney gets his way, that could change.

McNerney and President Obama’s Medicare plan empowers bureaucrats to interfere with doctors, risking seniors’ access to treatment.

Now, Obama’s budget plan lets Medicare go bankrupt: that’d mean big cuts to benefits.

Tell McNerney to stop bankrupting Medicare.

The National Republican Congressional Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising.

NRCC spokesman Tyler Houlton said McNerney’s 11th Congressional District is the only one in which such an ad is being launched; it’ll air in the San Francisco and Sacramento markets, but Houlton said he didn’t have information on the cost.

“While the Republican plan preserves and protects Medicare for future generations, the Democrats’ plan will lead to severe cuts in benefits for seniors and drastic tax increases in the coming years.” Houlton said. “Democrats already gutted $500 billion from Medicare when they passed the trillion dollar government takeover of healthcare, and they won’t hesitate to do it again.”

But the ad’s claims seem shaky. FactCheck.org, a nonpartisan project of Annenburg Public Policy Center, last week debunked the claim that President Obama’s budget proposal commits seniors to bureaucratically rationed health care: The new health care law states that the advisory board to which Republicans have referred “shall not include any recommendation to ration health care” and is to consist primarily of doctors, economists and other outside experts, not Washington bureaucrats.

FactCheck.org also refuted the claim that healthcare reforms recently enacted won’t improve Medicare’s finances: It does, though experts worry some cost controls won’t be fully implemented. Meanwhile, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget keeps in place some of those same cost controls.

And as for the Medicare-is-going-bankrupt claim, FactCheck.org tackled that one last month. Only Medicare Part A – covering inpatient hospital services and hospice care – is projected by the Congressional Budget Office to be exhausted in 2020 (or in 2029, according to the Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees), just as it was projected to be in 1972 and again in 1994.

“Politicians keep finding ways to postpone any insolvency,” FactCheck.org wrote. “We don’t mean to downplay Medicare’s financial challenges, but the whole system isn’t going ‘bankrupt,’ as Ryan’s claim suggests.”

McNerney spokeswoman Sarah Hersh, to whom I provided the script this evening, called it “one more misleading and baseless attack from Washington Republicans who are themselves currently trying to end Medicare for seniors and keep tax loopholes open for huge corporations that ship American jobs overseas.”

UPDATE @ 1:02 P.M. SATURDAY: Much ado about almost nothing? A credible source tells me the NRCC is spending $4,500 on the ad campaign being broadcast on Fox News from May 20 to June 2; the total includes $1,300 for the buy in the Sacramento area and $3,200 in the Tri Valley area cable.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • John W

    Rots of ruck with that messaging, GOPsters!

    Ryan’s budget plan was really insane, relying on private insurers to sell decent primary coverage to 75-year-olds. It also did little more than Obama’s sketchy proposal to balance the budget in our lifetimes. Repubs accused Dems of cutting Medicare and using the savings for healthcare reform and then turned around and used those same Medicare savings to pay for even more tax cuts (excuse me, that’s revenue neutral base-broadening tax reform, ha ha!). But Dems need to step up. Medicare WILL go broke, and soon, unless those of us on it pay a lot more share of the cost.

  • Publius

    Fact check this Josh.

    Why do prices and costs sky rocket when government gets involved?

    The medical industry has been so dominated by government regulations and barriers over the years that the rise in cost has finally outpaced the revenue being put in.The ponzi scheme is bust. The entire healthcare system in place is nothing but an inflationary boondoggle driven by big insurance companies, government bureaucrats and a huge baby boomer generation that has a deep sense of entitlement when it comes to “their” medicare.

    Seniors love medicare. Rightly so, it’s free. No one will be able to reform this system, with so many people depending on it. The only way to tackle this problem is to reduce the cost of healthcare.

  • Health reformer

    It’s interesting that the Republicans won’t reveal the cost of the ad. The reason why is it would probably be enough to buy medicines for most of the people in McNerney’s district. Republicans aren’t interested in people though. Just maintaining profits for big pharma and big healthcare corporations. Reform to them means taking more money out of the pockets of seniors. And those that cannot afford to pay, too bad.

    Their is nothing wrong with Medicare at all. The problem is needed reforms in the healthcare industry, capping unnecessary costs and overcharging by doctors and hospitals for services, and making the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes in this country.

    And making medicine competitive by establishing public option. This is what the medical for-profit coporations are most afraid of.

  • Elwood


    And here’s another dandy! The Obama administration is telling banks they will lend money to poor people whether or not they can pay it back.

    Ready for the next economic meltdown? It’ll make ’08 look like a garden party.

  • John W

    Re: #2 Publius says…

    “Seniors love Medicare…it’s free.”

    This senior who just enrolled in Medicare loves it not because it’s free, but because it is the only kind of system that will provide reliable access to the health care system without having to worry about insurers gouging, denying, or disenrolling you. “Elderly” is the ultimate pre-existing condition. As for the free part, my Social Security statement says I paid $139 thousand into Medicare, over and above what I paid into SS. If I keep ticking another 20 years, I’ll probably kick in another $150 thousand or so in premiums, co-pays etc. Yes, the amount I’ve paid in is way more than average for somebody my age. And even mine may not be enough to cover the costs of my health care. I’m willing to pay more to support the sytem. But let’s not say it’s “free.”

  • Kibosh

    re: the GOP trying to slam McNerney…”Who do you trust with personal health care decisions? Your own doctor.” There they go again, assuming that everyone has a doctor or health care. It’s part of the GOP mantra,”I’ve got mine, screw everybody else!” Obama and the Democrats are trying to make health care affordable and accessible for all and the GOP is doing their best to dismantle their plan. I can already hear the GOP argument for closing the CA’s state parks…”Who needs parks…are there no golf courses?”

  • John W

    All the staff that doctors have to hire to arm wrestle with the insurance companies to get paid suggests that it is hardly the government that gets between the patient and doctor. People often talk about the portion of health care spending that goes to insurance company administrative costs and profit. They rarely mention the billions in staffing costs and time that docs spend on paperwork.

  • Elwood

    After the mandatory purchase of health insurance is ruled unconstitutional by the supremes, Obamacare will be assigned to the dustbin of history.