Pawlenty claim about Obama Medicare ‘cuts’ deemed ‘misleading’

Quite a number of people have already pointed out that Mitt Romney’s claims about President Obama “cutting” Medicare amount to a whale of a whopper. But MPR’s Catharine Richert applies her fact-checking PoliGraph to the claim, saying: “During an interview with ABC’s This Week host George Stephanopoulos, former Minnesota Gov. and Romney surrogate Tim Pawlenty defended Ryan’s budget plan. And he pointed out that President Obama’s signature health care law makes big cuts to Medicare. ‘There’s only one candidate in this race who’s actually cut Medicare and signed such a thing into law, and that’s President Obama: $700 billion cut over the next 10 years,’ Pawlenty said. Pawlenty’s claim, which had been repeated by many other Republicans in recent days, is misleading. … The law doesn’t cut Medicare benefits. Rather, the law slows the future growth of the program by reducing payments to Medicare Advantage, a private insurance alternative to the traditional Medicare program, and ties reimbursement to performance. Additionally, the law slows future growth in payments to hospitals and other providers, according to a joint reporting project by the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Kaiser Health News. The savings are used to help pay for other parts of the health law.” I’m sure that’ll put an end to that “debate.”

You can imagine the reaction from the usual suspects if this were a public school salary. Steve Brandt’s Strib story says: “Charter school leader Eric Mahmoud’s combined salary is $273,000, well above the $190,000 earned by Minneapolis schools chief Bernadeia Johnson and any other public school superintendent in Minnesota. Yet the state Department of Education said its defers to charter boards on compensation, and Mahmoud’s supporters say they don’t see anything improper about his pay. Few would dispute Mahmoud’s work ethic. ‘There has never been a moment of any day when I have not found Eric in some way working for these schools,’ said Craig Kepler, a lawyer who does work for Mahmoud. ‘Midnight, 6:00 a.m., weekends, Eric’s every moment is invested in some way into these schools.  He earns every penny of his salary, many times over.’ ”

Dan Kraker of MPR covered the DFL’s Rick Nolan and GOP Congressman Chip Cravaack, practically next door to each other in Duluth Wednesday. “The venues where the candidates appeared spoke volumes about the kinds of voters they hope to rely on in the November election. Nolan spoke at a rally at the AFL-CIO Labor Temple in Duluth. Cravaack scheduled his event at a small business just three blocks away. … Cravaack wasted no time in zeroing in on his party’s biggest target, telling the crowd of about 20 people that he opposes President Barack Obama’s plan to raise taxes on the wealthy because that would hurt small business owners like [owner Jerry] Kortesmaki. ‘We cannot tax the small business owner, then turn around and chastise them for not creating jobs,’ Cravaack said. … DFL party chairman Ken Martin told [their] group they’re all united to return the district to DFL hands. Cravaack upset longtime Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar two years ago. ‘We know that this seat is the most Democratic seat in the whole country currently held by a Republican, but I don’t want that to fool anybody in this room,’ Martin said. ‘The reality is that we know this is going to be a dogfight.’ Martin acknowledges the district has become more conservative. The traditional DFL stronghold of the Iron Range has lost population, while the southern part of the district, which voted for Cravaack in 2010, has grown.”

Here are a couple sets of Olympic-quality quads, I’m guessing. Randy Furst of the Strib writes: “[A] Minneapolis couple biked the perimeter of the continental United States over the past 14 months, and have come back with a host of stories and impressions. Anne and David Winkler-Morey, both 54, returned home last week after a 12,200 mile bicycle trip that took them through 34 states, two Mexican states and two Canadian provinces. … They met, by and large, a generous population, people who would stop and talk to them, invite them home, feed them and let them sleep in their spare bedrooms overnight. But people often expressed fear about their neighboring communities. Their town was safe, people would say, but be careful about the next community over, Anne said. When the couple got to the next town, those people would say how safe they were there, but it wasn’t safe in the town where they’d just been. Yet during the long journey, she said, they were never victims of a crime.”

An MPR commentary by Normandale professor Chuck Chalberg suggests progressives should get on board the Voter ID bus: “[T]here was a time when the “good government” types were the progressives. And what could be more consistent with good government progressivism than assuring an honest vote? There was also a time when conservative types would have been horrified at the prospect of having to produce state-issued documentation to authenticate that its possessor is who he or she claims to be. … Progressives, on the other hand, might be trying to calm their conservative brethren down. They might be reminding paranoid conservative ideologues of just what is at stake here, namely the honesty and trustworthiness of our electoral process. But they aren’t. … the general thrust of all these progressive-era reforms was to ensure that our elections would be as transparent and honest as possible. Isn’t that the very spirit that animates the efforts of photo ID proponents?” I believe I see a flaw in your argument, professor.

There’s some interesting statistical dissonance over the number of hunters and fisherfolks. Dennis Anderson at the Strib writes: “Actual sales of Minnesota hunting and fishing licenses rose in recent years, but only fractionally, in significant variance with survey results of nationwide hunting and fishing participation announced Wednesday by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation found  hunters nationwide increased by 9 percent while anglers grew by 11 percent, compared to results from a 2006 survey. But the actual number of hunters in Minnesota rose only a fraction of 1 percent between 2006 and 2010, according to Minnesota Department of Natural Resources data. In 2006, the number of certified paid hunters in the state was 578,244. In 2010 — the most recent year data are available — the number is 579,752, an increase of 1,508, or less than 1 percent. During the same period, the number of certified paid anglers rose in Minnesota from 1,478,193 to 1,492,529, an increase of 14,336 or about 1 percent.”

Submitted without further comment … From the AP: “Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Wednesday he regularly exchanges text messages with Rep. Paul Ryan, including passing along Scripture verses and campaign advice. The Republican governor told the Associated Press in an interview that he is in regular communication with Ryan, who was picked Saturday to be Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate. ‘I gave him some feedback, even simple things,’ Walker said. ‘We text each other a lot, sending him some Scripture to think about. Sending him some things as simple as reminders to get enough sleep, to eat well, to stay connected to your family’.”

Speaking of … Jason Stein at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports: “A secret probe into those around Gov. Scott Walker has continued after the June 5 recall election and expanded beyond Milwaukee County and into state government, new records show. The documents show that Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm’s office continues its John Doe investigation into Walker’s administration even as the inquiry has gone publicly quiet over the summer. The records obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel through an open records request show that a Milwaukee County prosecutor sought personnel records from Walker’s office and another state agency in June and then met with a top state lawyer the next day. … the new records confirm that prosecutors are also seeking information from Walker’s state administration and did so as recently as June … Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney David Robles on June 18 made an open records request to both Walker’s office and the state Department of Administration for all communications ‘related to the designation and determination of individuals as ‘key professional staff’ of the Office of the Governor’ since the time Walker took office on Jan. 3, 2011.”

Sally Jo Sorensen does a good job of breaking down the dynamics of an Allen Quist-Tim Walz race down south. In her Bluestem Prairie blog, she writes: “What will November bring? Walz enjoys a huge cash advantage, boundless energy, an experienced campaign staff and seems to be liked by most Southern Minnesotans. But while Quist is a little different as we say in these parts, the district voters are independent-minded and far from any madding major media market. Will superfund dollars flow into the district?  Depends upon internal polling most likely — for now, it’s not thought to be competitive. And surely the twitter hubbub about Quist’s odd but decades’ old statements — popularized by Mother Jones and the Parry Campaign (band name anyone?) — should drive some  dollars in Walz’s direction from progressives terrified at the thought of a Bachmann mentor in Congress. Another fascinating fact: Mike Parry lost to Quist in the same counties that he lost in the January 2010 election — including his home county of Waseca. In his home senate district, he won Steele County by 59 votes, while losing Rice County as well as Waseca County.”

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Comments (19)

  1. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 08/16/2012 - 07:28 am.

    Charter schools

    ARE public schools.

    • Anonymous Submitted by Anonymous on 08/16/2012 - 08:09 am.

      In only ONE sense: They get public money. Their boards are not publicly elected, they don’t have to take all students who live in their neighborhoods, they don’t have to adhere to the rules that other public schools adhere to. These mostly-segregated schools cream the best students and families: students and parents have to agree to longer school days, longer school years, and parents are required to volunteer at the schools. This is NOT an extensible model. Further, the schools have an unhealthy focus on getting higher test scores on math and english. High test scores do NOT equal more learning.

    • Submitted by Dan Hintz on 08/16/2012 - 10:17 am.

      Charter v. Public

      Forget the salary, I’m not sure this guy could even get hired at a regular public school

      “Mahmoud was one of five men arrested in 2005 who Georgia authorities said used a fraudulent loan application to try to close on the sale of a home in Atlanta. The home was assessed at $3.9 million and allegedly was to be sold for $5.5 million. He pleaded guilty in 2010 under a plea agreement, saying he did so on the advice of his attorney, and was fined $5,000 as a first-time offender.

      Mahmoud said in an e-mail that the charge was dismissed last year but the prosecutor’s office said that’s incorrect. A conviction will not be entered if he completes his probation without violation, according to his sentence.”

  2. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/16/2012 - 09:27 am.


    Why does the media insist on using the oh-so-civil term “misleading?” If something is misleading, it is false. A person who persists in putting out false statements after they have been so frequently debunked is a liar.

    Of course, it is likely that Pawlenty doesn’t care whether what he says is true or false. That’s above his pay-grade. He was given a talking point, and he must repeat it. If there were standardized tests for conservative politicians (“No Rightwinger Left Behind”), T-Paw would be meeting the standards.

    • Submitted by Harris Goldstein on 08/16/2012 - 10:52 am.

      And why does Politifact leave out…

      The “liar, liar” part of “pants on fire”?

      And the great irony is that Ryan’s plan to essentially privatize Medicare would reduce actual benefits by 5-15% (the profit margin and added admin costs of private insurance). Effectively a tax on Medicare.

      And this is what Romney said about that plan back in April, 2012: “I think it’d be marvelous if the Senate were to pick up Paul Ryan’s budget and to adopt it and pass it along to the president”

  3. Submitted by Steve Roth on 08/16/2012 - 09:33 am.

    Just Heard Soledad O’Brien…

    …dissecting in plain English Pawlenty’s Medicare lie. Only heard the audio, but without the visual he reminded me of…well, a lying used car salesman, basically.

  4. Submitted by James Hamilton on 08/16/2012 - 11:01 am.

    Milking the charter schools

    As one of those commenting on the Strib article points out, it’s a bit hard to accept Mahmoud’s justification for his combined salary, i.e., comparing the salaries of others engaged in full time employment in the two areas. When you encounter the rest of his family at the trough, including his wife earning $105,000 / year as secretary (whether of the organization or an office secretary), it’s pretty clear that something’s amiss, regardless of results.

  5. Submitted by James Hamilton on 08/16/2012 - 11:14 am.

    Misleading? Isn’t that the campaign norm?

    (And I don’t mean Coleman, necessarily.)

    Yes, Pawlenty and others have distorted any number of proposals made by and actions taken by the Obama administration. They’ve done so for 4 years and will continue to do so.

    Dems are equally guilty and will continue to be unless and until the electorate tells them all “Enough, already!”

    Sadly, the more-than-hyperbolic has become the norm in what passes for political discourse these days. Spin today is no more subtle than throwing a brick through a plate glass window.

    I, for one, am weary of having to consult politifact or some other nominally independent source for something close to an objective report on any candidate and/or his or her proposals and actions.

    Maybe we should call for a “truth day” on 9/11, rather than simply a suspension of presidential campaigning.

  6. Submitted by Rich Crose on 08/16/2012 - 11:29 am.

    Get a New Accountant

    If a small business owner is making more than $250,000 a year as an s-corp, he’d better get a new accountant. You can deduct everything from paper clips to plane tickets as a business expense and if there is more than $250,000 left over that means your company probably made millions. It’s time to hire some new employees, one of them an accountant.

  7. Submitted by Logan Foreman on 08/16/2012 - 11:41 am.


    Explain why he makes that kind of money running a charter school. You constantly complain about other public schools.

  8. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 08/16/2012 - 11:59 am.

    EdMN Pres. Tom Dooher has good reason to hate Eric Mahmoud

    And leftist defenders of the status quo can be excused for ignoring his results as well.

    Best Academy Test Scores

    Math 2011-12 Proficiency: 88%
    Reading 2011-12 Proficiency: 82%

    Math 2011-12 Proficiency: 90%
    Reading 2011-12 Proficiency: 71%

    & more like that:

    …pay for performance? Hush your mouth!!

  9. Submitted by John Edwards on 08/16/2012 - 12:01 pm.

    Typical MinnPost “Journalism.”

    Not surprised to see that MinnPost ace liberal “reporter” Brian left out that Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm is a Democrat. The Walker issue is a partisan witch hunt by those still angry and hateful that they lost the recall election.

    • Submitted by Dan Hintz on 08/16/2012 - 02:15 pm.


      You know that the investigation began more than two years ago before Walker was even elected governor in the first place, right? Or that one of one of Walker’s aides had already pleaded guilty and that others have been charged with felonies?

  10. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 08/16/2012 - 12:05 pm.

    If $700 billion

    can be cut from Medicare and not have any affect on benefits, then Medicare is way over-budgeted. But of course, we’ve never heard that argument from Obama and the democrats.

    Obama’s $700 billion cut from Medicare providers will cause more doctors to refuse new Medicare patients due to the low reimbursement rates. So just as millions of baby boomers are getting ready to retire there will be fewer doctors who will be willing to take them on as patients. And all so Obama could fund his boondoggle.

  11. Submitted by Roy Everson on 08/16/2012 - 12:59 pm.

    To-do list

    Ryan: let’s see, stay connected to family, check. Say a prayer to Ayn Rand, check. Pull the plug on grandma, check.

  12. Submitted by Tim Droogsma on 08/16/2012 - 01:26 pm.

    Flying in the face of reality

    Only someone totally in the tank for the Obama regime could believe that you can cut $700 billion from Medicare and not have it negatively impact care.

    Reichert and other Obama media acolytes claim that “Oh, it’s not a cut in benefits, it’s just a ‘savings’ that’s achieved by cutting payments to providers.”

    In the real world, when you cut payments to providers, you know what happens? They don’t provide as much. They turn away Medicare patients and channel their efforts into other health care areas where they get adequately paid for their work. When grandma can’t get a doctor to see her because her clinic won’t take Medicare patients, she’s not going to buy the argument that “We didn’t cut Medicare, we just cut how much we pay to providers.”

    Imagine this scenario: Minnesota has a billion-dollar budget shortfall next year, and so they decide to balance the budget by taking a billion dollars out of teacher salaries. “We didn’t cut education,” they could say, using the same logic. “We just cut the reimbursement rate to the teachers. It’s not a cut, it’s a ‘savings.’ ”

    Do you think the same number of teachers are going to show up, work the same number of hours and provide the same level of service for less money? Of course not, and doctors, nurses, technicians and others are the same way.

    You can call it a Medicare ‘savings’ or you can call it a ‘cut,’ but the end result is the same: Less care available to seniors. And when T-Paw says that only one administration in history has signed into law a $700 billion cut in Medicare, he’s absolutely right. All the lefty spin in the world won’t change that.

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