"EXCLUSIVE: Outside Groups Spend Millions On Ads Featuring Medicare Misinformation"
The 60 Plus Association, American Action Network, American Crossroads, the Center for Individual Freedom, the Congressional Leadership Fund, Crossroads GPS, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ran a total of television 27 ads over the period accusing candidates in House and Senate races of supporting “$716 billion in Medicare cuts,” “slashing Medicare spending by over $700 billion,” “cutting $716 billion from Medicare,” and similar variations. Their spots have run in targeted House races in California, Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Texas, and Utah — and in key Senate races in Florida, Montana, North Dakota, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
One ad — a U.S. Chamber of Commerce spot running in Wisconsin — consists of fake constituent complaints left on an answering machine of the candidate complaining about the alleged cuts. A woman says “My Ma depends on Medicare. Why would you vote to cut it?” A man demands: “Keep your hands of my Medicare.” Another man asks “716 billion?”
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, representing 300,000 businesses, opposed the health care reform law. The NFIB, which claims to represent 350,000 small business owners, unsuccessfully sued to get the law overturned.
With around $15 million spent by all outside groups on TV ads in House races and about $19 million spent on these “independent” ads in Senate races, the $7,996,260 spent on these “$716 billion in Medicare cuts” ads accounts for almost a quarter of outside spending over the 31-day period.
Thanks to the Supreme Court’s 5-4 Citizens United ruling, outside groups like this are free to run ads for and against political candidates using as much corporate money as they wish. Due to weak disclosure laws, most of those outside groups need never publicly identify the companies and individuals funding their ads.