Friday, November 21st, 2014

Over a cliff, yes; but is this ad also over the top?

In this viral ad by a liberal group, a man throws an old lady in a wheelchair over a cliff -- a metaphor for the changes to Medicare envisioned by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. We looked at two claims in the ad.

Some political ads become classics. From the 2010 election cycle, who can forget Carly Fiorina’s "demon sheep" ad, Joe Manchin shooting a copy of the cap-and-trade bill or Christine O’Donnell’s saying, "I am not a witch"?

An early contender for a 2011 classic -- for sheer brazenness alone -- is one by the liberal group the Agenda Project. Officially, it’s called "America the Beautiful?" Unofficially, it will surely become known as "Throw Granny from the Cliff."

The ad takes aim at the Medicare overhaul proposed by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. -- an issue that has struck a chord with many voters lately.

The ad, set to "America the Beautiful," shows a man pushing an elderly woman in a wheelchair toward a scenic overlook. At first, the woman is happy, enjoying the sights. But then the man picks up the pace, veers past warning signs and rushes toward a cliff. When he reaches the edge, he tips over the wheelchair, and the woman falls dramatically over the ledge. The man walks calmly away.
   
The ad contains no dialogue, so its point is made through a series of superimposed statements: "In 1965, Americans made Medicare into Law. Today, Medicare provides the health insurance for 46 million Americans. More than half of Americans on Medicare live on less than $28,000 a year. Now, Republicans want to privatize Medicare. Is America beautiful without Medicare?"
   
We decided to check two claims. One is whether the Ryan plan would "privatize Medicare." The other is whether the Ryan budget proposal would leave the country "without Medicare."
   
On the first claim -- whether the Ryan plan would "privatize Medicare" -- we concluded that while the government would retain important duties in running Medicare under the Ryan plan, "privatization" does not have to mean that the government has nothing further to do with the enterprise. So we rated this claim Mostly True.

On the second claim -- whether the plan would leave the country without Medicare -- we found that while the Ryan plan would make substantial changes to Medicare, it would not end it. We rated that False.