With the country sharply divided over the sweeping new insurance law, Republicans and their allies are taking to the airwaves to attack it as elections near, often resorting to exaggeration and omissions to make their points. Democrats generally shy away from even talking about the subject, unless it's to distance themselves from it.
Meanwhile, Obama allies try to draw attention to the most immediate provisions, ignoring the biggest — and most contentious — parts of the expanded health care law that are still four years away.
EDITOR'S NOTE — An occasional look at the claims made in political advertising.
A look at some of the claims made in ads airing in key contests:
An ad by Crossroads GPS, a group founded by top Republican strategists Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, took aim at Democrat Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania's contest for the Senate. It ran similar ads against Sen. Barbara Boxer in California and Democrat Jack Conway, seeking a Senate seat from Kentucky.
The Claim: "Sestak voted to gut Medicare — a $500 billion cut. Reduced benefits for 850,000 Pennsylvania seniors."
The Facts: The law calls for cuts of about $500 billion over 10 years from projected payment increases to hospitals, insurance companies and others under Medicare and other government health programs. But the Congressional Budget Office places the overall cost of Medicare over 10 years at $7.1 trillion, making the reductions required by the new law amount to 7 percent of Medicare costs.
Not exactly a "gutting."
And a portion of the reductions in spending would come from cuts to Medicare Advantage, a system of private insurance plans that now covers about one out of four seniors. Those seniors now receive more coverage than typical Medicare recipients and they could lose the extra benefits. The 850,000 seniors mentioned in the ad represent the number of Pennsylvanians covered under Medicare Advantage. But the law did not cut benefits guaranteed under traditional Medicare.