Chabot: 'Magnificent' or Misleading?

Jul 21, 2011 at 5:09 pm

A group affiliated with the Heritage Foundation has bombarded voters in Ohio's 1st Congressional District with a glossy flier that tries to paint Rep. Steve Chabot as someone akin to an Old West hero.

The fliers, which began showing up in mailboxes during the past few days, feature a large photograph of a smiling Steve Chabot next to a headline that states, “Steve Chabot fights for our families.” The direct-mail campaign piece was paid for and distributed by Heritage Action for America, a 501(c)(4) tax-exempt group founded last year by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.—-

Using a photo of Chabot that's sepia-toned and appears to be at least 10 to 15 years old, the flier uses a font style similar to one used on Old West bulletins and wanted posters and tries to link Chabot and 10 other GOP lawmakers to the famous 1960 Western film, The Magnificent Seven.

The flier states: “Despite unrelenting liberal attacks, Congressman Steve Chabot came to the defense of our future. That's why he's been named one of The Magnificent 11.”

It continues, “Putting the well-being of our nation ahead of his career, Steve Chabot courageously voted for a bold plan to to fix our economy. Liberals claim the plan ends Medicare. This is a lie. The plan saves Medicare and gives Americans the same health care options as members of Congress.”

Well, that's not quite true. Or, to use the flier's terminology, it's a lie. But we'll get to that in a moment.

On the flier's opposite side is a photo of the silhouette of a man in cowboy hat, riding a horse and waving the American flag.

Yee haw, pardner!

According to a web site and Facebook page created by Heritage, other members of Congress' Magnificent 11 are Justin Amash, Dan Benishek, Bill Huizenga and Tim Walberg of Michigan; Steve King of Iowa; Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina; Steve Pearce of New Mexico; Steve Southerland and Allen West of Florida; and Joe Walsh of Illinois.

Media reports say Heritage spent $300,000 on mailings thanking Republican House members for their vote in favor of Congressman Paul Ryan's so-called “Path to Prosperity” budget plan.

A Heritage analysis says Ryan's plan, which cuts $6.2 trillion in spending during the next 10 years, would create nearly one million new private-sector jobs next year, bring the unemployment rate down to 4 percent by 2015 and result in 2.5 million additional private-sector jobs by 2019.

Other economists, however, sharply dispute those figures.

The Congressional Budget Office noted that Ryan's plan doesn't take into account the interest on the national debt when arriving at its conclusions. Moreover, the plan doesn't specify the changes to government programs that would be needed to achieve the goals.

Also, the Ryan plan increases costs for senior citizens and individuals with disabilities enrolled in Medicare, reduces their benefits and puts private insurance companies in charge of the program. For current beneficiaries, important benefits – such as closing the “donut hole” in Medicare’s drug coverage – would be immediately eliminated. For individuals age 54 and under, Medicare’s guarantee of comprehensive coverage would be replaced with a “voucher” or “premium support” to buy private health insurance. By design, this federal contribution does not keep pace with medical costs, shifting thousands of dollars in costs onto the individual.

More importantly, the Ryan plan would have even greater impact on individuals age 54 and younger, who aren't currently enrolled in Medicare.

Critics note there are roughly 470,000 individuals age 54 and younger in Ohio's 1st Congressional District who would be denied access to Medicare’s guaranteed benefits.

The Ryan plan would increase out-of-pocket costs for health coverage by more than $6,000 annually in 2022 and by almost $12,000 annually in 2032 for the 101,000 individuals in the district who are between the ages of 44 and 54. Further, it would require those individuals to save an additional $23.6 billion for their retirement – an average of $182,000 to $287,000 per person – to pay for the increased cost of health coverage over their lifetimes.

That hardly sounds like it “saves” Medicare. We don't cotton to liars around these parts, varmint.