Accuracy in Media

The Washington Post fact-checker gave four Pinocchios to claim by a liberal group that President Trump is “cutting Medicare to give tax breaks to billionaires.”

“Is Trump cutting Medicare to give tax breaks to billionaires?” the headline of the Washington Post article by Glenn Kessler asks before examining the language of a new ad from Priorities USA, a Democratic-leaning group.

“Trump’s 2020 budget did propose reductions in anticipated spending on Medicare, but it was completely unrelated to the tax cut passed by Congress in 2017,” Kessler writes. “The ad says the tax cut was for ‘billionaires,’ but the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center found that in 2018, 80.4 percent of all taxpayers would have a tax cut, compared with about 5 percent experiencing a tax increase.”

Kessler explains how proposals from the Trump administration would actually save seniors money on healthcare spending.

“Some of the cuts claimed by Democrats were not cuts; Trump simply proposed moving those parts of Medicare to different parts of the budget, but the spending would mostly continue at an inflation-adjusted rate,” Kessler writes. “Moreover, most of these so-called cuts are not coming at the expense of seniors; they are intended to reduce out-of-pocket costs for seniors by making the program more efficient. The administration says the cost reductions would extend the solvency of the Medicare trust fund by eight years … Moreover, these proposals generally have bipartisan support. The long-term budget deal struck by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin mostly concerned discretionary spending, but it included extending the ‘mandatory sequester’ — a 2 percent reduction in Medicare provider payments that is already in effect through 2027.”

Kessler concludes that Priorities USA has “a lot of gall” for their Four Pinocchio ad, which the Post describes in its rating scale as a “whopper.”

“There is no connection between the tax cut and Trump’s proposed Medicare reductions,” Kessler writes. “It takes a lot of gall to claim you’ve launched a ‘Let’s Be Honest’ campaign with a Four Pinocchio ad.”

Correction: An earlier headline misidentified the source of the story. It has been corrected to show the Washington Post.

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