Democratic opponents call Mullins mailer misleading

Editor’s note: this article was first published by vtdigger.org on Nov. 3
John Mattison and Valerie Mullin, Republican candidates for the House, sent out a last minute mailing to constituents this weekend that accuses Democrats of attempting to “take over your Medicare.”
The mailing is targeted at Democratic Reps. Herb Russell, Dave Sharpe and Mike Fisher.
Mattison is vying with Russell for a Rutland City seat, and Mullin is in a hotly contested race with Fisher, chair of the House Health Care Committee, and Sharpe, the vice chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, which is responsible for tax policy. Republican Fred Baser is also running for the Addison-4 seat.
Republicans are hoping to pick up seats in a handful of House districts, along with seats for the Senate in conservative pockets of the state.
The identical mailer, which was paid for by the candidates themselves, claims that Gov. Peter Shumlin and Reps. Herb Russell, Mike Fisher and Dave Sharpe want to “take your Medicare benefits for their single payer Vermont government takeover of health insurance including your Medicare supplemental plan. You could lose your doctor and be denied care.”
The Democrats have said they will not use Medicare to help fund Shumlin’s single-payer initiative. While intent language in Act 48, the 2011 legislative framework for health care reform, mentions state administration of Medicare funds, the state cannot handle claims or provider reimbursements. Vermont is part of a regional Medicare administration system.
Nevertheless, the flier from Mullin urges voters to tell Mike Fisher and Dave Sharpe “hands off my Medicare.”
Fisher says while the misinformation from his opponent is a disappointment, he half expected it.
“I’ve been in this business long enough to know there will be an attack ad in the final days,” Fisher says. “They can’t help themselves. No matter how positive the campaign is, they always do that. Either they don’t understand or they do and have chosen to print it. Promoting fear as a way of trying to get elected is always upsetting.”
Rep. Willem Jewett, D-Ripton, the House majority leader, says Medicare is a marquee Democratic initiative that the party has had to defend time and time again. “The concept that Democrats are going to do something to jeopardize Medicare is hard to fathom,” Jewett says.
The Democratic Party accuses Mattison and Mullin of “flat out lying to Vermont voters.”
Ben Sarle, the spokesman for the party, says the national Republican Party used the same tactic in 2010 when Obamacare passed.
“It seems that their go-to tactic is to scare and mislead instead of engage in honest debate,” Sarle said in a statement. “This type of messaging echoes the nasty, borderline-slanderous behavior of the VTGOP’s national counterpart. No one should be surprised that the Tea Party rhetoric that dominates the national GOP has become standard for the VTGOP. If Republican candidates care to engage in a real conversation in our state, they should disavow and publicly condemn these mailings. If not, Vermonters should hold them accountable for their personal endorsement of these lies.”

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