What exactly is Soledad O'Brien arguing? On Monday's Starting Point she slapped away a factual statement that President Obama has cut Medicare funding by $700 billion as "debunked" and "very much political spin."
"But I have to tell you as I'm sure you know, that 700 million dollar figure has been – billion dollar figure has been debunked by CNN and the Congressional Budget Office," O'Brien lectured Romney surrogate Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.).
What Republicans have been saying is that President Obama chose to cut Medicare by $700 billion to help pay for ObamaCare. And according to CBO estimates, the reduction to Medicare growth has indeed increased to around $700 billion.
Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker tried to diffuse that argument. "What's important to point out as you were getting at in the interview, is that $700 billion was not cuts to beneficiaries," explained Lizza. "They took $700 billion out of payments to actually a decrease in the rate, in the rate of increase to providers." O'Brien did not disagree with him.
However, CNN did not "debunk" the $700 billion claims by saying the cuts went to Medicare providers instead of Medicare benefits. Rather, O'Brien's knee-jerk defense of the Obama administration deflects the glare away from a factual argument, that Obama did indeed slow the rate of Medicare growth by $700 billion.
A transcript of the segment, which aired on Starting Point on August 13 at 7:11 a.m. EDT, is as follows:
Rep. RANDY FORBES (R-Va.): I think the second most dangerous approach is what the President wants to do in taking 700 billion dollars out of Medicare, which he's proposed to do.
O'BRIEN: I want you to elaborate for me when you say Vice President Biden's plan. Give me some specifics on that. But I have to tell you as I'm sure you know, that 700 million dollar figure has been – billion dollar figure has been debunked by CNN and the Congressional Budget Office. That number has been batted around a lot.
LIZZA: The Medicare -- look the Republican line now on Medicare is to point out to this $700 billion figure. They are going to say, ah-ha, you want to say Paul Ryan is going to hurt Medicare, wait a second the President of the United States took $700 billion out of Medicare and used it to pay for ObamaCare. What's important to point out as you were getting at in the interview, is that $700 billion was not cuts to beneficiaries. They took $700 billion out of payments to actually a decrease in the rate, in the rate of increase to providers. So it's not beneficiaries that that – but we're going to be hearing that number a lot.