Rep. Guinta "Not Familiar" With Right-Wing Group Spending Big Money In NH

August 23, 2011 3:00 pm ET — Meredith Kormes

At a town hall meeting last week, Rep. Frank Guinta (R-NH) was confronted by a constituent who received a mailer from the conservative American Action Network that accuses Democrats of trying to "balance the budget on the backs of seniors" with a bill to amend Medicare Part D, and praises Guinta for blocking "these drastic changes to Medicare."

The "drastic changes" the mailer refers to are contained in the Medicare Drug Savings Act of 2011. According to Politico:

In unveiling the bill, California Rep. Henry Waxman said its goal was to bring down the cost of drugs by making drug manufacturers pay a rebate to the government for Part D recipients who receive both Medicare and Medicaid benefits.

That's not how the bill is described in the AAN campaign, which contends that new costs to drug companies would end up being passed on to consumers.

As ThinkProgress (and the constituent in the video) noted, "CBO estimates that if drug manufacturers provided the Medicare Part D program with the same prices that Medicaid receives, the government could save $112 billion over 10 years."

The AAN mail piece didn't only go to Guinta's district; it was part of a "large-scale mail and newspaper ad campaign" at the end of July targeting 32 Republican House districts, most of them freshmen, in attempt "to shore up Republicans on the issue of Medicare."

What is interesting about all this is Guinta's reaction to the mailer at the town hall where he denied knowing anything about the mailer and denied even knowing what the American Action Network is. 

Considering the American Action Network spent over $26 million in the 2010 election cycle, and almost $1 million in New Hampshire alone, it's surprising that Guinta would be "not familiar" with the group. Either Guinta is woefully uninformed about political groups playing in his district or he is trying to distance himself from a conservative group that has a history of deceptive advertising.

Watch (transcript below the fold):

(h/t: NHDP)

GUINTA: Well, I don't know—this is the first time I've seen this mailer. I don't know who sent it. I'm not familiar with this group. Um, so...

CONSTITUENT: Well, Mr. Guinta, they're saying you support, you support that proposal. And I'd like to know what's going on here.

GUINTA: I don't think that's what—that's not how I read it.

CONSTITUENT: Well, that's what it means; I looked it up online, and, uh, did the research on it. And it's talking about the Waxman-Rockefeller bill that would require the federal government to negotiate prices for Medicare and Medicaid dual-eligibles.

GUINTA: Well, what this—I'll just read one sentence. It says that uh, I've "joined a bipartisan effort to block President Obama from balancing the budget on the backs of seniors"—

CONSTITUENT: That's not what the does.

GUINTA: I'm just telling you what it says.

CONSTITUENT: But that's not—that's not what that does. Answer my question. Why don't you support the government negotiating prices for drugs that would save 112 billion dollars over 10 years?

GUINTA: I support anything we can do to save 112 billion or 112 trillion. I, uh, I'm not, I don't--I've never seen that until now. That's not—may I? Let me finish. I'm not sure that's exactly what that says. What it says is that there's a bipartisan group that opposes a piece of legislation that changes the cost for Medicare.

CONSTITUENT: Well, I can read you exactly what the analysis is.

GUINTA: Well, you know I would be happy to take a look at it when we're done. And I can sit down with you personally. Again, I don't—I didn't send that to you. I don't know what group sent it to you.

CONSTITUENT: Representative, it's got your face on it.

GUINTA: I understand it's got my face on it [laughter] but I didn't send it to you. And I don't know who, who—

CONSTITUENT: Who is the American Action Network?

GUINTA: I have no—I have no idea.

CONSTITUENT: You don't know them?

GUINTA: I don't know. So I would be happy to take a look at it after with you and research it for you and—

CONSTITUENT: I hope you do because you should—then if you don't agree with it or you don't know what it is, you should send out something refuting it.

GUINTA: Well, this was the first, uh, first notification I had that something was sent. So I appreciate you bringing it to my attention.