Niagara Gazette

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October 4, 2012

In stats-filled debate, who said what -- and was it true?

(Continued)

DENVER —

Under the health-care law, spending does not decrease in Medicare year after year; the reduction is from anticipated levels of spending in future years. In fact, the savings mostly are wrung from health-care providers, not Medicare beneficiaries — who, as a result of the health-care law, ended up with new benefits for preventive care and prescription drugs. But Romney argued that was a "bad trade," and the Medicare actuary also has raised concerns about whether the cuts to providers were sustainable.

While it is correct that anticipated savings from Medicare were used to help offset some of the anticipated costs of expanding health care for all Americans, it does not affect the Medicare trust fund. In fact, the Obama health-care law also raised Medicare payroll taxes by $318 billion over the new 10-year time frame, further strengthening the program's financial condition.

Moreover, under the concept of the unified budget, money that is collected by the federal government for whatever purpose (such as Medicare and Social Security payroll taxes) is spent on whatever bills are coming due at that time. Social Security and Medicare will get a credit for taxes collected that are not immediately spent on Social Security, but those taxes are quickly devoted to other federal spending.

Indeed, the House Republican budget plan crafted by Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan, retains virtually all of the Medicare "cuts" contained in the health-care law, but diverts them instead to his Medicare overhaul. Republicans argue that that is a more effective use of the savings.

- - -

"I also want to close those loopholes that are giving incentives for companies that are shipping jobs overseas."

— Obama

"You said you get a deduction for taking a plant overseas. Look, I've been in business for 25 years. I have no idea what you're talking about. I maybe need to get a new accountant."

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