Obama plays the Medi-scare card against Republicans 

Medi-scare is back. This week President Obama marched out Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to start a new Democratic campaign aimed at frightening senior citizens.

Her message: They will be left with unfilled prescriptions, canceled rehab sessions and a thousand other pains because of spending cuts being sought by the terrible, hard-hearted Republicans in Congress. In a transparently partisan letter to Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., Sebelius falsely asserted that millions of Medicare payments will be disrupted if House Republicans get their way in defunding Obamacare.

The HHS head pointed out that some payment schedules for Medicare had been repealed by Obamacare and replaced with new ones. That means, according to Sebelius, if the Republican spending bill passes and bars tax dollars from being used to implement Obamacare, then programs like Medicare Advantage will have to be shut down because they will no longer have their legal authority to make payments under the old schedules. Sebelius further warned in the letter to Baucus that, if Obamacare funding is blocked, she will have to "perform extensive analyses" to determine whether Medicare could make any payments at all. Then she would need another "several months" to write and promulgate complicated new rules before payments could be resumed.

What Sebelius did not mention was that Medicare payments are mandatory and thus unaffected by the GOP appropriations bill that passed the House last month. This new Medi-scare campaign comes from the same administration that used a program Congress intended as a Wall Street bailout -- Troubled Asset Relief Program -- to nationalize General Motors and Chrysler (despite a congressional vote against an auto bailout); that has been held in contempt of court for imposing an illegal moratorium on oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico; that proposes to regulate the Internet despite having no statutory authority to do so; and that fired Americorps Inspector General Gerald Walpin in a manner that utterly violated a law that Obama himself co-sponsored in the Senate. Now all of a sudden, Obama administration officials are sticklers for the rules, fearful of exceeding their authority by even one iota? As Examiner Columnist John Stossel would say, give us a break.

It goes to show that in Washington, anyone will say anything to gain political advantage. But it is very much an open question whether this ploy will work. In the 2010 election cycle, senior citizens went for the GOP by 21 points, after slightly favoring Democrats in 2008. This violent swing came in no small part thanks to Obamacare and the threat it represents to Medicare.

Medi-scare has served Democrats well in the past, but they are likely to find themselves swallowing a bitter pill if they play that card this time.

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