The Washington Post Fact Checker has given Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) four Pinocchios for claiming the Republicans are planning to get rid of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in order to trim the budget deficit in his campaign ads.
“The Republicans have run enormous deficits up to provide tax cuts to big corporations, millionaires and billionaires. Now that we have this deficit problem we caused with this tax bill, they turn around and they say they have got to get rid of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. They’re going to take the trillions of dollars that they gave to the wealthiest Americans, and they are going to pull it out of the health care of regular Americans.”
— Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), speaking in a campaign ad
Whitehouse’s ads were based on recent comments that Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made about the budget deficit and the need for a bipartisan effort to reduce it and twisted what he said to make it appear that the GOP was going after entitlement programs.
“We all know that there will be no solution to that, short of some kind of bipartisan grand bargain that makes the very, very popular entitlement programs be in a position to be sustained. That hasn’t happened since the ‘80s,” McConnell told Reuters on Oct. 17. “But at some point, we will have to sit down on a bipartisan basis and address the long-term drivers of the debt.”
McConnell reiterated in an interview on the Terry Meiners radio program that the three programs were not going to be changed unless both parties agreed.
The Fact Checker summed up Whitehouse’s ad claims:
Whitehouse would have been on more solid ground if he had protested that a mostly partisan tax bill had made the deficit problem worse and made it harder to grapple with baby-boomer retirements. But he has no evidence to support his incendiary campaign claim that Republicans want to eliminate these programs. It’s especially bad that the senator makes this claim himself in an ad — during a race in which he doesn’t need to go so negative.
For his disinformation campaign, the Post awarded Whitehouse the maximum fourPinocchioss.