Tag: mary peltola
Mary Peltola

GOP Dark Money Outfit Hits Democrats With False Claims Of Medicare Cuts

The dark money group American Action Network announced Friday that it will spend $2 million on ads to try to convince voters that President Joe Biden is going to cut health benefits for older Americans.

The tax-exempt 501(c)(4) political group said it plans to run ads in 14 House districts and in Washington, D.C. A sample spot, aimed at voters in Alaska, targets Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola.

"How did D.C. liberals fund $200 billion for IRS and Green New Deal pet projects? By raiding our Medicare," a narrator says. "Now President Biden's proposing massive Medicare Advantage cuts to seniors that could slash over $500 in benefits per retiree. While Biden breaks his promise to 30 million seniors who chose Medicare Advantage, Congresswoman Mary Peltola is silent. So we must speak."

The group says that it will also run ads targeting Democratic Reps. Yadira Caraveo (CO), Matt Cartwright (PA), Don Davis (NC), Lloyd Doggett (TX), Anna Eshoo (CA), Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (WA), Jared Golden (ME), Marcy Kaptur (OH), Dan Kildee (MI), Greg Landsman (OH), Wiley Nickel (NC), Emilia Sykes (OH), and Susan Wild (PA).

Many of the ad's claims are sourced to right-wing media outlets and to America's Health Insurance Plans and the Better Medicare Alliance, lobbyinggroups for the health insurance industry.

The ad's claims are false.

The Inflation Reduction Act, enacted in August 2022, before Peltola was elected to Congress, invested $369 billion in clean energy and climate change infrastructure, but did not include the Green New Deal, a climate proposal introduced in Congress in 2019 by Democrats Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts.

Provisions in the law allocate funding to modernize and improve staffing for the Internal Revenue Services. Because such improvements will allow the agency to crack down on wealthy individuals and businesses that do not pay what they owe in taxes, the Congressional Budget Office estimates the investment will pay for itself and actually bring in a net $185 billion over a decade.

The law also allows Medicare to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies for lower prices on medications and caps the out-of-pocket costs for beneficiaries who need prescription drugs and insulin. Though this will save the program money, it is in no way a raid on Medicare and will not harm beneficiaries. Fact checkers have repeatedly debunked GOP claims that the changes in the provision amount to a cut.

Biden has not proposed to cut benefits for Medicare Advantage, Part C of the Medicare program, which allows recipients to opt in to a private insurance plan instead of "Original Medicare" for their coverage. A new rule issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid on Feb. 1 would allow the federal government to reclaim some of the money it overpaid to the private insurance companies. But the agency predicted an overall increase of 1.03 percent in total Medicare Advantage spending for 2024. On February 15, PolitiFact ruled claims that the administration was cutting the program false, based on interviews with multiple experts.

The American Independent Foundation reported in 2021 that the American Action Network had spent millions of dollars on ads opposing letting the government negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies, warning that such negotiations would amount to a "socialist drug takeover plan" and would kill people because lower corporate profits might result in less investment in future research and development.

The organization, chaired by former Minnesota Republican Sen. Norm Coleman, has spent millions of dollars to attack Democrats, support Republicans, and oppose health care reforms.

It does not disclose its donors, but public filings have revealed that it has received millions of dollars in the past from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a trade group representing the drug industry, and from health insurer Aetna.

Its latest ads come as Republicans in Congress are seeking to convince voters that they have not proposed significant and unpopular changes to safety net programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security and that it is Democrats that really want to slash the programs.

In late February, Florida Sen. Rick Scott abandoned his proposal to make Social Security and Medicare automatically expire every five years and require reauthorization by Congress, despite having claimed in March 2022 that doing so was the best way to "preserve" those programs.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

Democrat Peltola Defeats Palin In Alaska Special Election Upset

Democrat Peltola Defeats Palin In Alaska Special Election Upset

Alaska election officials carried out the instant-runoff process Wednesday for the August 16 special election for the state’s only House seat, and former Democratic state Rep. Mary Peltola has scored a dramatic pickup for her party by defeating Republican Sarah Palin 51-49 percent.

Peltola, who will replace the late GOP Rep. Don Young, will be the first Democrat to represent the Last Frontier in the lower chamber since Young won his own special election all the way back in 1973. The new congresswoman, who is of Yup’ik ancestry, is also set to become the first Alaska Native to ever serve in Congress.

The outcome was in doubt for so long because the state allows all mail ballots postmarked by Election Day to be received for another 15 days. Peltola went into Wednesday with 40 percent of the vote while two Republicans, Palin and businessman Nick Begich, took 31 percent and 28 percent respectively. (Write-in ballots made up the balance.) While the two Republican candidates together outpaced Peltola 59-40, Democrats hoped that Palin wouldn’t pick up quite enough Begich voters to overtake the leader when their second-choice preferences were tabulated.

Everyone was kept guessing through Wednesday, especially the candidates, who appeared together at an Alaska Oil and Gas Association forum just before the results were announced. They learned there that, while the voters who listed Begich or a write-in as their first choice went for Palin 50-29 percent, a crucial 21 percent didn’t express a preference for either finalist. All of this was just enough for Peltola to keep her edge in the final round of tabulations and give her party a crucial win in a state that Donald Trump had carried by 53-43 percent just two years ago.

Peltola’s victory on such red turf, though, looked improbable before the polls closed two weeks ago. Indeed, national Democrats didn’t even commit serious resources to the contest, a decision the former state representative called “bizarre” just before Election Day. Peltola, however, benefited from voters’ lingering apathy toward Palin, whom the Anchorage Daily News last year described as "nearly invisible within the state" and "almost entirely absent from Alaska politics" since she resigned the governorship in 2009.

While Palin had Donald Trump’s backing for her comeback campaign, the 2008 vice presidential nominee showed little interest in reintroducing herself to her old constituents. Palin made only a few public appearances in the Last Frontier, while she used the weeks before Election Day to hold a Minneapolis fundraiser with far-right pillow salesman Mike Lindell and speak at CPAC's confab in Dallas.

Begich was only too happy to portray Palin as a terrible governor who only cared about being a celebrity, and he ran commercials showing photos of her 2020 appearance on The Masked Singer where she performed "Baby Got Back" disguised as a pink and blue bear. Palin herself hit back in the final days of the race by castigating Begich, who is the rare Republican member of Alaska's prominent Democratic family, for supporting relatives like former Democratic Sen. Mark Begich.

Peltola, by contrast, avoided attacking either of her GOP rivals, and neither Palin nor Begich went after her either: Both Republicans instead smiled in selfies with their Democratic opponent, and Palin even went so far as to call her a “sweetheart.” All of this made it harder for conservative leaders to make the case that Begich's and Palin’s supporters needed to look past their brutal intra-party fight and rank the other Republican in order to keep Peltola out of Congress.

Republicans, though, will have the chance to regain this seat in a few months. Peltola, Palin, and Begich as well as Libertarian Chris Bye, will be on the ballot again in November for another instant-runoff election, and the dynamics could be very different for this second round.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Palin Returns To National Politics At Top Of Alaska Primary Pack

Palin Returns To National Politics At Top Of Alaska Primary Pack

Sarah Palin is reemerging on the national political scene after she advanced with the most votes in the primary for the special election to fill Alaska’s only seat in the House of Representatives. Palin will contest the special election with three other candidates vying to serve the remainder of Don Young’s term, who died in March after 49 years in the House.

The Alaskan has not held political office since Palin took the national stage as Senator John McCain’s running mate in the 2008 presidential election.

Palin received 30 percent of the votes, 10 percent more than her next competitor, and she received an important endorsement from Donald Trump. In many ways, Palin’s ‘maverick’ political stylings in the 2008 election set the stage for Trump eight years later.

Notably, the election was conducted completely by mail, and with about 25 percent of the vote left to count a clear top tier has emerged. Joining Palin will be Republican Nick Begich who received about 19 percent of the vote, and independent Al Gross with 12.5 percent.

The fourth and final spot will likely go to Democrat Mary Peltola, who received 7.5 percent. A democratic socialist named Santa Claus is the next closest contender with 4.5 percent of the vote.

Republican Split

Much like other primary contests across the nation, the Alaska primary and the special election will have competing factions of the Republican Party vying for political office.

Palin represents the Trump wing of the party with her website highlighting key conservative talking points against abortion, for gun control, and specific to Alaska, drilling for oil.

Palin’s endorsements read like a who’s who in the Trump world of GOP politics: Turning Point USA, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Sheriff David Clarke, Donald Trump Jr., in addition to Trump himself.

In 2008, Palin’s "populist" brand of politics was more novel, but now she falls squarely in line with the majority of Republicans.

The second-highest vote-getter, Nick Begich III, represents the other side of the battle within the Republican Party. Begich III is the grandson of former Democratic Representative, Nick Begich, who died in a plane crash in 1972.

Begich III worked on Young’s 2020 reelection campaign and served on the Alaska Republican Party's finance committee. But Begich III entered the race before Young died and had become critical of his spending.

The more traditional Republican is running as a fiscal conservative and touts his collaboration with the conservative Club for Growth. The Club for Growth is a conservative political organization that promotes cutting income taxes and removing the estate tax, among other right-wing positions.

The Club for Growth backed Trump in 2020 and were big backers of candidates who supported overturning the 2020 election results. It backed competitors to Trump-endorsed candidates in key Senate primaries in Ohio and Pennsylvania, however. Trump’s candidates won, but he said of the club, “it’s their right to do it, but it’s a rather hostile act. It doesn’t mean I have to like it.”

Rather than a complete break from Trump’s brand of politics, candidates like Begich III show that powerful organizations like Club for Growth are less interested in dismantling Trump’s political movement, than vying to take it over for their own political ends.

Palin’s Chances

Palin enjoys the highest name recognition and will be the favorite heading into the August 16 general election.

In a new twist in Alaskan elections, the general election uses ranked-choice voting. Alaskan voters will have the option to vote for their top four choices, and if no single candidate gets 50 percent of the vote, a second round is held by eliminating the lowest candidates’ votes and adding those voters’ second choice to the voter’s tally. The counting ends when a candidate receives a majority of votes.

This election structure may harm Palin’s chances. A May poll showed that 59 percent of likely special election voters have a negative view of the former Governor. Yet she clearly has a dedicated base that may turn out for her.