Coates Ad: Obama Forcing Seniors into “Government Run Healthcare”

Dan Coates has an ad that makes a claim that should make your head explode.

Don't Steal From Medicare to Support Socialized Medicine

To follow up on Alex Knapp’s post on Roy Blunt’s campaign commercial that asserted Obama health care bill :”cuts Medicare to pay for government run healthcare” we have another example from the Dan Coates campaign.  Coates is the GOP candidate for Senate in Indiana.

In his commercial the following statement is made:  “Ellsworth voted with Nancy Pelosi to force seniors into Obama’s government run healthcare program.”

The commercial is here (clip at about :17):

Such claims ought to make our heads explode.  For those who are missing the point, I would note that Medicare is government-run healthcare, indeed, moreso than what the healthcare bill created, which was really health insurance reform, but within a system of private insurance (remember:  no public option).  Medicare is essentially government provided health insurance for all persons 65 and older and it is a universal program once one hits the target age.

Beyond that, the healthcare reform didn’t force seniors into anything, as they were already under Medicare, healthcare bill or no.  In short:  the ad is criticizing government involvement in healthcare by extolling the value of a government healthcare program.  As such, this tactic plays on the popularity of government involvement in healthcare.

One can debate the specifics of the healthcare billor the methods by which it is funded, but these are reality-bending claims.

I know that commercials are extremely brief and therefore cannot go into complex policy issues, but is it too much to ask for a little intellectual honesty?  Yes, I know the answer to that question and it is Sisyphean to even make such a plea.  Still, this kind of this has the quality of claiming that black is white and that up is down.

It would not surprise me if the ads come from the same agency:  the basic style is the same and each using the “that’s wrong” tagline after describing what Obama/the opponent has done/supported.

Beyond just the parallel universe quality of the claims, these ads do underscore a point I have continually made in various places for years:  the GOP makes noise about what to shrink government, but they also know that program like Medicare are extremely popular and that they won’t be able to cut them.  Further, their voters claim that they want massive cuts and government out of their lives as long as the government keeps its hand off of Medicare, of course! (not to mention to make sure that we have a strong national defense!  And don’t close that military base in my town, and please don’t cancel that defense contract that employees so many in my state.  Oh, and the bridges on the local interstate are a disgrace!  And the list goes on).

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2010, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. george says:

    “Beyond just the parallel universe quality of the claims, these ads do underscore a point I have continually made in various places for years: the GOP makes noise about what to shrink government, but they also know that program like Medicare are extremely popular and that they won’t be able to cut them. Further, their voters claim that they want massive cuts and government out of their lives as long as the government keeps its hand off of Medicare, of course! (not to mention to make sure that we have a strong national defense! And don’t close that military base in my town, and please don’t cancel that defense contract that employees so many in my state. Oh, and the bridges on the local interstate are a disgrace! And the list goes on).”

    That kind of sums up the problems with the GOP attitude to gov’t. They speak small gov’t, but they just want a different kind of big gov’t than the democrats – not to mention that things like the war on drugs show they’re just as interested in gov’t interfering in people’s day to day lives.




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  2. john personna says:

    I sense a vibe, perhaps coming out of the end of the Tea Party cycle. More people are starting to talk moderation and pragmatism. Someone on tv claimed that while both parties have low approval ratings 80% of voters want them to work together.

    Sea change?




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  3. john personna says:

    I guess I should say that I sense Republicans going this way. Perhaps it is because they played their strong opposition game for the last two years, building to this election, and are now realizing they didn’t get exactly what they wanted.

    They may get seats, but they aren’t getting a national referendum on restored Republican (or Tea Party) policies.




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  4. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Taylor, I know you are dense, but anyone with an IQ over 70 knows the whole purpose of the healthcare reform as passed by the Democrats was to open the door to single payer health care. A simple polling has indicated a vast majority of Americans do not want this sort of system. You know, even Fox News has people from the left have a voice. Here, only Joyner is anything near neutral. Get used to it, the GOP is going to control congress. The people will have spoken inspite of our vast wisdom. Go figure.




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  5. sam says:

    Dan Larison argues that the Democrats are having problems this go-around because they’ve lost seniors on the health care issue. Sounds reasonable to me. But Coates’s ad and Blount’s make crystal clear that the Republicans have zero interest in cutting spending in those places where cutting spending would mean anything. George nailed it:

    “They speak small gov’t, but they just want a different kind of big gov’t than the democrats”

    Of course, Blount and Coates are about as establishment Republican as you can get, and, as I said before, I’m willing to give the Tea Partiers the benefit of the doubt at this point on their stated desire to cut spending. Which reminds me of a scene in some movie I saw years ago. It was a medieval swords and damsels thing. One character was thinking about schtupping the king’s wife. Another character said to him, “You know what the penalty for that is if you’re caught? They take you and a bunch of cats, sew you all up in a bag, and throw the bag in the ocean. I wonder what it’s like in that bag?” Pretty good description on the Republicans post-election, with the Tea Partiers in the role of the cats.




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  6. john personna says:

    Zels, there is this thing called The Internet that makes it very easy to check a claim like “A simple polling …” It looks like these folks have collected more than a dozen polls that show the opposite:

    http://www.wpasinglepayer.org/PollResults.html“>

    What I remember were Republicans who feared that reality so much that they make up “death panel” bullshit to combat it.

    Now, when the dust settles, what are you going to do? What the people actually wanted?




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  7. reid says:

    Health care reform has been polluted with misinformation and lies from the very beginning. Why stop now? I wish the Democrats had done a better job combating the garbage and talking up its positive points.




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  8. Herb says:

    “Get used to it, the GOP is going to control congress. ”

    But…but…but…I thought the Tea Parties were going to control congress….




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  9. Matt Parker says:

    As a Democrat I’m loathe to correct you on this, but there is some truth to this claim. The Medicare cuts in the healthcare bill were largely in the Medicare Advantage (MA) program which is a an optional alternative to traditional Medicare run by private insurance companies. So, technically speaking, if plans stop offering private MA offerings, seniors enrolled in those plans now would have to move back into traditional Medicare.

    Now, I’m fairly certain this is not what Coates meant. Nor, does he want to debate the merits of a program that cost more for seniors and the government than traditional Medicare. Nor, the fact that while offered from private companies, they’re highly regulated. So, in that sense, you’re right, this ad is beyond cynical.




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  10. @Matt:

    You are correct that the program changed the Medicare Advantage program (and indeed what I was obliquely referring to in my post in regards to the issue of debating how to fund Medicare).

    However, that doesn’t change the fact that whether one is with MA or with straight-up, old school Medicare, that one is still under Medicare. It isn’t as if being moved off of MA means you can only go to government clinics, for example.




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  11. Matt Parker says:

    Steven:

    Fair enough, and I agree that it’s unlikely that the political consultants who made this ad were considering this nuance.




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  12. Max Lybbert says:

    I haven’t seen the ad, and I’m not likely to ever watch it. However, I suspect the ad is based on the effort to make health care reform look like it didn’t increase the deficit. Part of that effort was to include money saved reducing Medicare reimbursement rates in the numbers, even though there was never any intent to actually reduce Medicare reimbursement rates.

    This is related to the Medicare Advantage program. But they are two different issues.




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