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Reality Check: The New Anti-Rick Nolan Ad

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(credit: CBS) Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A new television ad from a national conservative group takes on a Democratic candidate for Congress in Minnesota for comments he made — nearly 40 years ago.

But the candidate in Minnesota’s 8th District — Democrat Rick Nolan — says the ad is “completely false.”

Here’s what the ad says:

“Medicare. To us, a sacred promise we rely on. But to Rick Nolan, Medicare’s outdated. In the way of his radical ideas. In the ’70s, Nolan backed a bill to replace Medicare with a European-style health program. Under Nolan’s plan, Medicare would have ended altogether. Even now, Nolan supports a plan that cuts Medicare by over $700 billion. Defeat radical Rick Nolan and his dangerous ideas.”

The facts cited by the ad are TRUE — 36 years ago.

In 1976, then-Congressman Rick Nolan supported a universal health care bill sponsored by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.

It was similar to Canada’s National Health Care program.

The Kennedy bill was one of three health care plans competing for votes back then, including one from President Richard Nixon mandating health insurance for working Americans.

None of them passed.

The ad then takes what Nolan said in the 1970s and makes claims about 2012:

“Under Nolan’s plan, Medicare would have ended altogether. Even now, Nolan supports a plan that cuts Medicare by over $700 billion.”

That’s MISLEADING.

The Kennedy plan would have ended Medicare in name only.

Medicare would have been “Super Sized” because everyone, including seniors, would be covered under the new plan.

It’s also unfair to say Nolan wants to cut Medicare.

The Affordable Care Act Nolan supports lowers payments to doctors and hospitals, and uses the money to fund other senior services.

One more thing you NEED TO KNOW:

The ad is produced by the Washington-based American Action Network, which calls itself a “center right” think tank.

It was founded by former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman, who serves as its CEO.

Because it is a tax-exempt 501c4 organization, it is not required to disclose its donors.

The Nolan for Congress campaign issued the following statement in response to that ad:

“The American Action Network ad is absolutely false. They are trying to use 30-year-old legislation and misleading facts to make completely false claims about Rick Nolan. The legislation they refer to is essentially a ‘Medicare for All’ program that would have covered seniors and all Americans. It would have been self-sustaining, similar to the original designs of Social Security and Medicare.

The truth is, Rick Nolan believes we need to honor the promise made to Americans who have spent their lives paying into the system by strengthening Medicare and making sure it’s there for future generations. And it’s ironic that they would attack Rick for supporting the same $700 billion in ‘cuts’ to Medicare that Congressman Cravaack has supported. Cravaack voted twice for the Ryan plan, which includes the same Medicare reforms as those in the Affordable Care Act.

When it comes to protecting Medicare there is a clear choice in this election – between Rick Nolan who wants to preserve and protect it for future generations and Chip Cravaack who enthusiastically supports the Ryan plan, which ends Medicare as we know it and increases costs for seniors by $6,400 per year.”

Here are some of the sources we used for this Reality Check:

Nolan for Congress
Cravaack for Congress
History of Health Care, including Kennedy-Corman bill, in the 1970s 
American Action Network
Open Secrets: American Action Network
Public Integrity
Open Secrets: Outside Spending
Medicare “Cuts”
Politifact

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