Labor Goes Too Far In A Medicare Ad
By Brooks Jackson/CNN
WASHINGTON (July 15) -- They call it "Medi-Scare." It's the tactic of frightening the elderly by claiming Republicans plan to destroy Medicare. And the latest television advertisement from the AFL-CIO is a case in point. (1M QuickTime movie)
In it, a narrator says, "When you're older, and you're sick, Medicare is more than health care, it's peace of mind." Then, the spot cuts to House Speaker Newt Gingrich delivering a speech to Blue Cross on October 24, 1995: "Now we don't get rid of it in round one because we think that's politically smart and we don't think that's the right way to go through a transition. But we believe it's going to wither on the vine."
That's just dishonest. What Gingrich really said was that the Republicans believed the Medicare bureaucracy would wither on the vine -- not Medicare benefits.
Here's the full quote: "What do you think the health care financing administration is?" Gingrich asked. "It's a centralized command bureaucracy. It's everything we're telling Boris Yeltsin to get rid of. Now we don't get rid of it in round one because we don't think that's politically smart and we don't think that's the right way to go through a transition. But we believe it's going to wither on the vine because we think people are going to voluntarily leave it. Voluntarily."
The AFL-CIO is standing by its ad. In a letter sent to station managers in response to Republican complaints, the labor federation said, "We welcome your review of the full text of Mr. Gingrich's speech because we are confident you will agree that it was indeed Medicare that Mr. Gingrich intended would 'wither.'"
That ad is running in the districts of several House Republicans, as part of labor's $35 million effort to defeat Gingrich's agenda.
This story originally appeared on CNN's "Inside Politics."
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