Las Vegas Sun

January 30, 2015

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Memo from Carson City:

Democrats lob ‘Medi-Scare’ attacks on state candidates who have no say over program

Of all the issues the Nevada Legislature will take up in 2013, Medicare, the health care program for seniors, isn’t one of them. That’s because it’s purely a federally run, federally funded system that state lawmakers have no control over.

But that hasn’t stopped Democrat-aligned groups from launching attacks on at least four Republican candidates for the Legislature, accusing them of wanting to end or cut Medicare.

Neither party holds a monopoly on factually challenged or intellectually dishonest attacks in the final days before a campaign. And indeed, Democrats say their candidates have been unfairly attacked for clients they never represented, things they never said and positions they never took.

But the Medicare attacks appear to be part of a coordinated effort — at least three candidates for the state Senate and one assemblyman in a competitive seat have been attacked on Medicare, often by mailers paid for by unions and political action committees, including the Service Employees International Union and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

State Republicans call the attacks “disingenuous and shameful,” adding that they insult the intelligence of Nevada voters.

“The folks doing these ads don’t think much of Nevada voters,” said Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, who has headed GOP campaign efforts to take control of the state Senate. “It’s a complete fabrication. They’re making stuff up out of whole cloth.”

Democrats have accused Republicans of wanting to cut Medicare for years — it’s known in political circles as “Medi-scare.” But the attack usually is reserved for federal races, where the candidates actually might get to vote on a bill that affects the program.

The latest attacks mirror a strategy by Democrats to use national issues against state-level candidates. In 2008, they used a similar tactic to defeat former Sen. Bob Beers and then-Sen. Joe Heck, now a congressman.

Wes Duncan, a Republican candidate for Assembly, said mailers in his district accuse him of wanting to end Medicare and give “tax breaks to millionaires,” another national Democratic attack line.

“I don’t have any power over Medicare,” he said in exasperation. “And apparently, I want to give tax breaks to millionaires, which is funny to me. I think voters are numb to it.”

Leaders of the SEIU and AFSCME in Nevada did not return calls for comment Friday. But Sen. Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, heading the caucus’ campaign efforts, said Medicare attacks are legitimate.

“What we’re trying to do is get people to understand what they’re thinking,” Denis said. “On these types of issues, that’s where their thoughts are.

“Their rhetoric is as empty as their hollow shell of a ground game.”

Denis said the positions come from statements the candidates made.

In the case of Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, opponents cherry-picked comments he made when he ran for Congress. Mari Nakashima St. Martin, as spokeswoman for the Nevada Republican Party, sent out a press release praising the Ryan budget.

But Steve Kirk, a former Henderson city councilman, has never come close to the Medicare issue. Mailers from the AFSCME accuse him of wanting to join the “team” that wants to “end Medicare” and attributing the position on Medicare to his “allies and donors.”

“We’re not going to pay $6,400 more per year,” the mailer reads above a picture of a stern elderly lady. “We’re voting against Steve Kirk.”

But vote for Kirk or not, it won’t change Medicare.

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  1. It can end by stopping all TV the ads, mailers, polls and phone surveys by any party!

    Otherwise, stop complaining! The voters are the victims of all this garbage from both parties.

  2. Truth serum:

    You need to take some of that serum yourself. Try it.

  3. State Legislators Gerrymander Districts That allow these Extreme Tea Party Candidates that Oppose Medicare AND Social Security to Run and Somtimes get Elected - Like Dean Heller AND Joe Heck. Too bad this "Reporter" is Short On Journalism and Long on Spewing Republican Talking Points. I think David is working for the Wrong Newspaper and looking to sway the Low Information Crowd.

  4. Apparently Lambert is too ignorant to understand that no Legislature has the power to "allow" or not "allow" citizens of the United States to run for office as long as they are not barred by statute from doing so (term lmits, felony record, under age, living out of district, etc.). As for "Gerrymandering," I share his disgust for it and for all parties who use it to entrench themselves in office. "Gerrymandering" is not in the public interest and, through the courts, has been found to be unconstitutional in many cases. Not enough, but it's a start.

  5. Entertaining article. Amazing how funny real life is. And, I hope others appreciate Bill O'Reilly for his comedic value. Now can we challenge DMS to 'splain it all to the entitled, self-righteous far left that the TEA party is not a bunch of extremists, not when compared to the lefties? Balancing a budget even if it hurts versus giving away money we don't have?

  6. Not sure all the Posters here can read, but here goes: TEA party, I hear, has lots of seniors who WANT SS / Medicare in place. They seem to have figured out that the Democrats and non-self-reliant folks have spent us into insolvency and seem to think they are entitled to confiscate much of our income to fund their style of life. Unfortunately, they didn't leave enough funding around to keep the seniors, retirees, intelligent adults, self-reliant voters and almost everyone else happy. They didn't leave enough funding in our take-home pay--they just keep spending on their "needs" and wants without regard for what we need to keep the economy going.

  7. Time to get over "who's" level of authority / responsibility it is. Federal SS and Medicare. State and local funding and functioning of Medicaid. Yet the dependents on Medicaid, TANF, Food Stamps, free housing, WIC, and assorted local programs LIVE MUCH BETTER than seniors. Yet federal requirements dictate that we can't turn anyone away from tax-funded food banks, even when they're here illegally. Listen up feds / politicians: Americans have STOPPED DONATING because you give it all to illegals. A volunteer at a local food bank and an employee at a city run food bank both said they FAVOR ILLEGALS on weekly free food trips while they must tell American seniors to not come back. They say the illegals are well dressed, drive up in their new Cadillac Escalades, have smart phones and pretend "no comprendo" when asked to provide any SS number for selves or dependents--6 kids and NO SSN???? Denial of benefits is the ONLY ANSWER--give them bus tickets south.