Tennessean: Campaign scare tactics again target seniors
Larry Bivens of the Tennessean’s Washington Bureau calls out 60 Plus Association for lying and yet, you can’t find the article anywhere online. This is so much more important than the stories we have access to, which is usually all horse race and no substance. 60 Plus is extremely well-funded and has been running TV commercials non stop all over the Tennessee’s 8th Congressional District and has been for quite some time. They also seem to make it a habit of scaring seniors in other places too.
Will the seniors who are being manipulated through fear by 60 Plus ever see this article? Ever hear the truth?
I am posting it in it’s entirety here:
Campaign scare tactics again target seniors
By Larry Bivins
WASHINGTON — When Sen. Russ Feingold aired a campaign ad recently vowing to oppose any attempt to privatize Social Security, he jumped on an attack wagon loaded with embattled Democrats.
Locked in a tight midterm re-election battle, the three-term Democratic incumbent accused his GOP opponent, Ron Johnson, of supporting proposals that would “undermine” the promise of Social Security.
A week earlier, Johnson, a businessman who is taking his first stab at politics, continued a line of attack unleashed by many Republicans this election. In a mailing to Wisconsin voters, Johnson accuses Feingold of supporting a $523 billion cut to Medicare when he voted for the health-care reform bill that became law.
Both candidates are adopting a battle-tested strategy called scare seniors to the polls.
Ads bend, break truth
From California to Pennsylvania, politicians, political committees and independent groups are pouring money into ads that touch what is considered the third rail of American politics, Social Security and Medicare, in an all-out effort to corner the senior vote.
“This has been part of the Democratic playbook for a long time, and it’s generally helped,” said Jim Kessler, vice president for policy at Third Way, a think tank founded by centrist Democrats. “In this environment, right before an election that could hold major losses for Democrats, this is to be expected.”
This year, however, Republicans are reversing the spin on Democrats regarding Medicare.
“In the context of the health-care reform debate, Democrats became vulnerable to the claim they would cut Medicare,” said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a communications professor and director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. The center runs a website, FactCheck.org, that assesses the accuracy of political ads.
In most cases, Jamieson said, the veracity of ads regarding Social Security and Medicare ranges from barely true to outright falsehoods. In some cases, candidates are being selective in using their opponents’ own words against them.
FactCheck.org concluded, for example, that Rep. Steve Kagen, D-Wis., accurately quotes Republican challenger Reid Ribble as saying he wants to “phase out” Social Security but that Kagen misleads when he says Ribble would force “Wisconsin’s seniors to fend for themselves.”
Politically risky issue
PolitiFact.com, an accuracy project run by the St. Petersburg Times, applies a Truth-O-Meter to ads and finds those accusing Democrats of cutting more than $500 billion from Medicare to be false. The health-care law seeks to slow Medicare’’s growth by that much.
Health Care for America Now, which advocates health-care reform, kicked off a telephone campaign Thursday in 10 states — California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin — to warn seniors about Medicare ads it calls misleading. One, by conservative seniors group the 60 Plus Association, makes the assertion about the $500 billion Medicare cut.
Such ads are effective because they contain just enough truth to be plausible in an environment of fear, Jamieson said. But the practice, she added, can have a chilling effect on any serious debate over what to do about Social Security and Medicare, entitlement programs that are projected to run out of money.
“One of the things it accomplishes is it reminds those in office that touching this issue is politically hazardous,” Jamieson said. “They’re called the third rail of politics. Well, the rail stays alive because of these attack ads every election.”
Most consistent voters
Why target seniors? Because they are the most consistent U.S. voting bloc.
“Seniors vote in midterm elections; we all know that,” said Barbara Kennelly, president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve and Protect Social Security and Medicare, an advocacy group that endorses candidates. It has endorsed Feingold. “Nothing is more important to seniors than Medicare and Social Security.”
In a recent AARP poll, nearly nine out of 10 respondents said they planned to vote, and 95 percent said it was important for a candidate to pledge support for Social Security. An overwhelming majority were concerned about the status of Medicare doctor payments and Medicare fraud.
But the programs’ long-term stability is in jeopardy. Social Security, for the first time in its 75 years, will pay out more in benefits than it collects in taxes this year. The latest report from trustees of Social Security and Medicare said Social Security will run out of money after 2040, while Medicare’s solvency is assured through 2029.