How The New York Times Perpetuates Falsehood That Obama Is Gutting Medicare


A New York Times article failed to report the truth behind Mitt Romney's and Paul Ryan's false claim that President Obama has stolen $716 billion from Medicare.

The Times reported that a Romney ad claimed that "Obama has cut $716 billion from Medicare." While the article included a statement from Obama contesting Romney's charge, it included no attempt to ascertain whether Romney's charge was true or false.

The truth is Obama's Affordable Care Act included hundreds of billions of dollars of Medicare savings, but those savings are actually reductions to future growth in Medicare, not cuts in current spending levels. And those savings do not cut any Medicare benefits.

But none of these facts made it into the Times article:

In recent days, Mr. Romney has been trying to change that political dynamic. The Republicans released a television commercial on Tuesday asserting that the Romney-Ryan Medicare plan was better for older Americans.

"Obama has cut $716 billion from Medicare," the ad says. "Why? To pay for Obamacare. So now the money you paid for your guaranteed health care is going to a massive new government program that's not for you."

Mr. Ryan sounded similar themes, campaigning Wednesday in Oxford, Ohio, on the campus of his alma mater, Miami University.

"Look at your paycheck," Mr. Ryan told an enthusiastic crowd of more than 1,000, including much of the current membership of his former fraternity. "Look at the line that shows your payroll taxes. They are supposed to go to two programs, Social Security and Medicare, period. Now because of President Obama they're also going to pay for Obamacare."

"It's not right, he knows it, he can't defend it," Mr. Ryan said.

Mr. Obama was quick to make the case on Wednesday that the spending reductions would not reduce any benefits. "This is something I've got to point out here, because they're just throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks," Mr. Obama said derisively, before going into his own claim that the Republican proposal would leave Americans 65 and over with only the voucher option. Actually, the newest iteration of Mr. Ryan's plan would offer the choice of staying in the traditional program or getting a subsidy to buy private insurance.

By contrast, the Associated Press and Los Angeles Times both informed their readers that the Romney-Ryan claims are completely untrue.

The AP article reported that Obama's Medicare savings "were not directly aimed at Medicare's 48 million beneficiaries," but instead lowered the reimbursements that Medicare will pay to hospitals, insurers and others. The AP article also noted that Obama's savings extends the life of Medicare, while Romney's promise to repeal the savings "would move the program's insolvency eight years closer."

And the AP reported that outside experts say that Romney's promise to repeal the Medicare savings "could force deeper cuts, and sooner" to Medicare.

The Los Angeles Times also correctly noted that "Obama's $716 billion in cuts in the projected growth of Medicare have no direct effect on the benefits that patients receive." 

Posted In
Health Care, Health Care Reform, Medicare
The New York Times
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