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Reality Check: Group attacks Baldwin on health care

Published On: Oct 17 2012 07:10:50 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 17 2012 08:55:07 PM CDT

A conservative super PAC has been hard at work trying to label Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin as "too liberal" for the U.S. Senate.

The group Crossroads GPS, a super PAC headed by former George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove, has been using much of its unlimited campaign donations to attack Baldwin.

The group's latest television ad takes on Baldwin's record on health care.

The ad says Baldwin pushed for an extreme takeover of health care, playing a clip of Baldwin saying, "I actually was for a government takeover of medicine."

WISC-TV found this needs clarification. Baldwin supported a health care bill in 2009 called the United States National Health Care Act, which would have provided all Americans with free health care. The plan was what many call a "single-payer" system, where medical care is decided by patient and doctor but completely paid for by the government.

"It would go beyond Obamacare to create a government-controlled health system, paid for by crushing new taxes on the middle class," the ad says.

WISC-TV found the tax argument misleading. The bill outlined that the program would be paid for in four ways: from existing sources of health care revenue like Medicare and Medicaid; increasing income taxes on the top 5 percent of income earners; creating a new tax on payroll and self-employment income that would be based on how much someone made; and starting a tax on stock and bond transactions.

The bill never outlined how much those taxes would be nor did the Congressional Budget Office ever take a look. Arguably the payroll tax would increase for middle class families, but the sponsors of the bill argued that would be offset by the fact that families would no longer pay health care premiums or out-of-pocket costs.

"Tammy's plan would outlaw the private health insurance that families depend on," the ad says.

WISC-TV found this is also misleading. The bill would not outlaw insurance companies but essentially make private insurance unnecessary. The government would provide and pay for all health care, replacing whatever private insurance a family currently had.

Private insurance companies could provide "supplemental coverage" for benefits that "are not medically necessary," such as cosmetic surgery.

Ultimately the bill died in committee, but does Baldwin still support this type of plan?

A spokesman for her campaign would only tell WISC-TV that Baldwin would push to fully implement the president's health care law.

Leading up to the election, WISC-TV will do Reality Check reports on the candidates' claims along with the ads backing them. You can email ideas to and find past Reality Checks under the politics tab on

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