WASHINGTON -- The 87-member Republican freshman congressional class of 2010 may be among the most consequential crops of new legislators ever, but they don't seem to have much sway with the party campaign apparatus.
Just a day after 42 of them called on the president and Democrats to abandon "MediScare" tactics in the debate over reforming Medicare, the National Republican Congressional Committee announced its release of an alarming ad that hits San Francisco Bay-area Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney over Medicare.
"Who do you trust with personal health care decisions? Your own doctor," the spot says. "But if Jerry McNerney gets his way, that could change."
The ad is referring to the President Obama's Independent Payments Advisory Board, which ties cuts to Medicare costs to inflation. It is supposed to help cut costs in Medicare by lowering what is paid for ineffective treatments, already a growing practice among private insurers.
The idea is to save $15.5 billion and help extend the life of Medicare.
But the ad also warns: "Now, Obama’s budget plan lets Medicare go bankrupt: that’d mean big cuts to benefits. Tell McNerney to stop bankrupting Medicare."
The NRCC insists the spot is not scary. "The scariest thing about this ad is that it is all true: Democrats have a plan to empower bureaucrats to interfere with doctors and endanger seniors' access to their healthcare," said NRCC spokesman Paul Lindsay.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), the lead author of the GOP freshmen's letter asking Democrats to refrain from "MediScare" campaigning, did not respond to requests for comment.
One signatory of the letter, Rep. Bob Dold (R-Ill.), declined to support the ad, noting he hadn't seen it, and distanced himself from any sort of frightening campaign tactics. "Please understand me: nobody's consulting me on the ads," he told The Huffington Post.
Dold stood by the intent of the request for politicians to forgo demagogic attacks on Medicare reform plans.
"I'm not trying to scare anybody," he said. "We know we have to make changes. I want to make sure we have a fact-based discussion with the American public. I'm not looking to throw anybody under the the bus. ... Let's get together with some of the plans, let's make sure we sit at the table, let's not try to frighten people."