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New ad boostering Barrow using fudged facts

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A Democratic political action committee is offering Rep. John Barrow some reinforcements in the air wars, launching a new television spot in which the vulnerable blue dog is commended for his work to protect Medicare from Republican reforms.

“Some in Washington want to end Medicare,” the commercial’s narrator says, flashing ominous portraits of Congress. “John Barrow said no way.”

But the labor union-linked Patriot Majority USA’s 30-second ad relies on already-debunked rhetoric as it boosts Barrow’s standing.

“Barrow fought against raising the eligibility age for Medicare. “Prevented a new Medicare doughnut hole,” the ad says. “And opposed those who’d increase costs on seniors by six thousand a year.”

Except there was no such effort underway to saddle retirees in Georgia’s twelfth district with higher health care costs.

The spot bases its cost claim on House budget chief Rep. Paul Ryan’s Medicare proposal from early 2011 in which the government would make fixed payments to enrollees each year. The proposed payment formula had absolutely no impact on those persons age 55 or older, which is to say anyone already–or even remotely close to–drawing Medicare benefits.

The Democratic-fueled notion that Republicans had voted to end Medicare or burdened retirees with new costs was so pervasive that it was named the “lie of the year” last year by the Tampa Bay Times’ fact-checking outfit.

Ryan’s proposal has since been tweaked. His 2012 budget endeavored to create a Medicare exchange system for future retirees in which government premiums would be determined by the second-least expensive plan in a region or a traditional fee-for-service program, which ever was least cheaper.

But don’t expect Rep. Barrow to complain about the spot or its claims, though, as the Georgia Democrat was this week treated to news that the National Republican Congressional Committee had reserved more than $900,000 in air time this fall.

Patriot Majority did not disclose the amount of its buy, though a spokeswoman for the group said the ad would remain in circulation for a week. For perspective, the NRCC’s buy is large enough to remain ubiquitous for north of two months.

- James Richardson

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