The battle between Rep. Mark Critz (D-Cambria) and GOP challenger Keith Rothfus over Medicare has become a microcosm of the national rhetorical battle between Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan and President Obama’s healthcare plan.
And the National Republican Congressional Committee has taken notice.
On Friday, the NRCC released a new ad attacking Critz for “flip-flopping” on the issue of Obamacare by criticizing him for running as a Democrat opposed to the plan in 2010, but subsequently supporting portions of the bill.
The ad also localizes the national argument made by Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his vice presidential choice Ryan: that Obamacare cuts $716 billion in funding from the popular Medicare program, causing 850,000 Pennsylvania seniors to lose their benefits.
Critz’s Press Secretary Mike Mikus called the ad “blatantly false” in a campaign press release, and criticized Rothfus for his support of Ryan’s budget plan, which he said would cost seniors more for Medicare.
“The blatantly false television commercial being aired by the national Republican Party is nothing more than a desperate attempt to distract voters from Keith Rothfus’ support of the Ryan Budget that will end Medicare by turning it into a voucher program and cost seniors an additional $6,400 per year to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy,” Mikus said.
Obamacare does divert money from Medicare to fund the healthcare program; however, this funding stems from reimbursement to the healthcare industry – not benefits.
On the other hand, Democrats have accused their Republican counterparts of supporting the Ryan budget plan, which they say cuts over $700 billion toward Medicare in order to pay for tax cuts for wealthy Americans.
But Ryan argues that his budget plan accounts for Medicare cuts under Obamacare, and funding toward the program would be restored once Republicans repeal the controversial healthcare law.
The race for PA-12 has become one of the most highly watched congressional races in the country, with Critz vulnerable in the conservative-leaning PA-12.
According to Shira Toeplitz of Roll Call, the anti-Critz ad buy is the largest so far by the NRCC, with the group spending $107,175.
And because the 12th district includes a high number of senior citizens, the issue of Medicare is certainly a pertinent one.