Daily Disclosure: Democratic super PAC zeroes in on GOP Medicare plan

Majority PAC ad accuses North Dakota U.S. Senate candidate Rick Berg of being on a 'short leash'

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The dog supposedly represents Rep. Rick Berg's obedience to the GOP party line. Berg is the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in North Dakota. 

Screenshot/YouTube

Amid a flurry of nasty ads released yesterday, one stands out for its … cuteness.

Short Leash” from the Democrat-aligned super PAC Majority PAC is an attack ad starring a puggle (a designer breed of a pug and beagle mix) aimed at North Dakota Rep. Rick Berg, a Republican running for U.S. Senate against former Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp.

“Rick Berg talks big in North Dakota but does what he’s told in Washington,” the narrator says, while the obedient pup pants happily in front of the Capitol.

The ad goes on to detail the ways in which Berg has voted the party line, including on Medicare, and asks, “Do we really want a senator on a short leash in Washington?”

Majority PAC has hit Berg before on some of the same claims listed in “Short Leash.” At least four other ads from Majority PAC claim Berg voted to “cut Medicare.”

Berg has in fact voted with his party on all major issues this Congress, according to the Washington Post’s congressional votes database, but the Medicare claims are a little more complicated.

Each party accuses the other of seeking major Medicare cuts: Democrats criticize the cost-saving measures in Rep. Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan, and Republicans criticize those in President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

Berg did vote in support Ryan’s budget plan, which includes turning Medicare into a “premium support” plan in which Americans choose from a variety of private insurance plans and the government pays a set amount in premiums, according to Politico. The plan saves money by introducing competition among providers and limiting how much the government will subsidize seniors’ costs, according to Politico and Forbes. The Democrats are correct that Berg voted to cut Medicare.

The Republicans are also correct. The Affordable Care Act also makes cuts (or saves money, depending on the point of view), which come mainly from changing how Medicare reimburses hospitals and doctors, according to the Washington Post.

The issue is not who voted to cut Medicare. It’s how they will cut Medicare. And that tends to be too complicated to explain in a 30-second television ad.

Majority PAC has received major financial support from top donors who include James Simons, founder of hedge fund giant Renaissance Technologies, Fred Eychaner, the CEO of NewsWeb Corp., and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.  

In other outside spending news:

  • "Diner" from Patriot Majority USA opposes Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, for saying he would do anything Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, asked of him. Latham faces Democratic Rep. Leonard Boswell in Iowa’s new 3rd District.
  • A wave of ads is airing this week in Charlotte, N.C., the site of the Democratic National Convention. “Are you better off?” asks the Republican National Committee. The answer, according to the RNC, is “no.” The RNC also released a second ad in Charlotte featuring a speech from former President Jimmy Carter playing over claims about Obama’s record on economic recovery.
  • Also in North Carolina, a super PAC run by evangelical conservative Gary Bauer began airing an anti-gay marriage ad. The Campaign for American Values PAC's "New Morning" features a wife telling her husband, "Obama is trying to force gay marriage on this country."
  • Conservative nonprofit Americans for Prosperity is also targeting voters in North Carolina and a handful of swing states with an ad aimed at the Affordable Care Act. The ad tells the story of a dying Canadian woman who came to the United States for medical treatment because "Canada's government-run health care system was failing her."
  • Janesville” from conservative nonprofit American Future Fund uses a quote from Obama during his 2008 campaign about a Janesville, Wis., General Motors plant being able to stay open for another 100 years with government assistance. The plant closed before Obama took office, but Republican vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan nonetheless seemed to fault Obama for breaking his promise, Factcheck.org and several other news organizations pointed out. Ryan stands by his statement, made at the Republican National Convention last week, saying that he was not actually blaming Obama for the plant’s closure but merely pointing out that he has broken promises.
  • The Senate Conservatives Fund's new ad, “Stop Brown,” attacks Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, for supporting the Affordable Care Act, the stimulus and other Democratic initiatives.  “He was caught failing to pay his own taxes,” the ad says. Brown admitted he was four months late paying property taxes on his Washington, D.C., condo this year, saying, “I misplaced the bill and I paid it as soon as I found out,” Cleveland Live reported. Records also showed he was late paying the same taxes in 2006 and 2007.
  • $16,000,000,000,000.00 ($16 Trillion)” from the Republican National Committee attacks Obama for adding nearly $5 trillion to the national debt.
  • The Service Employees International Union’s PAC, SEIU COPE, released an ad opposing Republican attorney Keith Rothfus, who is running against Democratic incumbent Rep. Mark Critz in Pennsylvania’s 12th District.
  • The National Republican Congressional Committee attacked Nevada state Sen. Steven Horsford in a new web video for being what it calls “one of the 10 most corrupt Democrats of 2012.” Horsford faces Republican businessman Danny Tarkanian in Nevada’s new 4th District. Horsford's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
  • The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s new feel-good animated ad “Ladders” pumps up House Democrats. “We believe that it’s time to reignite the American Dream,” the narrator says. The group also reported spending $325,000 on ads opposing Republicans and supporting Democrats in five U.S. House races.
  • The Democratic Senatorial Congressional Committee reported spending $191,000 on ads opposing Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., who is running for U.S. Senate against Democratic incumbent Sen. Jon Tester.
  • The Republican Majority Campaign, a conservative political action committee, spent $150,000 on phone calls and mailers opposing Obama.
  • New super PACS: Vote Your Values PAC in Washington, D.C., and The Office Fund/Tri-Cities PAC in Prescott, Ariz.