Sunday, August 26, 2012

Romney-Ryan versus Obama on Saving Medicare

I’m happy about Romney’s pick of Paul Ryan as his running mate, thinking his knowledge, earnestness, and experience (7 term Congressman), particularly on budget issues (current chair of the House Budget Committee), will help the ticket’s chances in November.  My only concern about Ryan on the ticket has been the willingness he and Romney would show to proactively and aggressively rebut the Democrat smear that his thoughtful approach to Medicare reform amounts to “pushing granny off the cliff”.  I have thought that Romney and Ryan can win the argument on Medicare reform, but only if they are willing to confront the issue head-on and not be reactive to Democrat smears and distortions.
Happily, Romney and Ryan are doing just that – taking the argument to voters and getting favorable responses (link).  The simple reality is that the current Medicare program is financially unsustainable and that the Ryan reform plan only affects people now under 55.  Obamacare, on the other hand, already law, takes a huge chunk of money out of the current Medicare program, affecting seniors right now on Medicare – a chunk estimated by the government at about $450 billion when the law was first enacted and now pegged by the Congressional Budget Office at over $700 billion (link).  That’s it -- Obamacare takes out over $700 billion from the Medicare program seniors are currently on.  On top of that, throw in Obamacare’s new rationing board and the current law, enacted entirely by Democrats with no Republican support, dramatically affects seniors right now.  Once these facts sink in to more people it’s Obama who will be rightly seen as pushing granny off the cliff.
The Democrat response to this unpleasant reality – more smears and lies.  Yuval Levin at National Review Online (link): 

Last week I spoke with a journalist who covers health care who was marveling at the trouble the Democrats had allowed themselves to get into on Medicare — thanks to Obamacare on the one hand and the Romney-Ryan plan on the other, it’s suddenly Democrats who would cut the program for current seniors but would fail to save it from collapse and Republicans who would leave current seniors protected and stand a real chance of saving Medicare (and the federal budget) in the long run.  In their attempt to run away from this new reality, the Democrats have found themselves pushed into a series of increasingly implausible and unserious defenses and seemed to be losing ground on Medicare, which they had hoped might be their strongest issue this year.  

“So what will they do?” I asked him. He didn’t hesitate: “They’ll just lie.” He thought they would revert to the same story they have told for years — Republicans will increase seniors’ costs and destroy Medicare and Democrats won’t — and assume that people will just believe it.  That certainly made sense, and we now know he was right. On Saturday, the Obama campaign released this ad attacking the Romney Medicare proposal. The ad doesn’t walk some sort of narrow line between misleading and deceiving, it’s just simply a pack of lies from top to bottom.... 

....Those are all the claims in the ad, and they are all false. At least as striking, though, is what the ad doesn’t mention. It doesn’t mention that the Romney Medicare proposal would leave current seniors entirely unaffected or that it would provide a guaranteed comprehensive benefit to future seniors through a premium-support system. It doesn’t mention that the Democrats cut $716 billion from Medicare in this decade to spend on Obamacare, and did so largely through increased price controls, which are the most counterproductive way to reduce short-term costs since they tend to drive up long-term costs and undermine efficiency, quality, and access. It doesn’t say that Obamacare subjects Medicare to a board of 15 rationers who will decide which benefits are worthwhile and which are not — for both current and future seniors.  In other words, the [Democrat] ad pretends Obamacare does not exist, ignores the reality of the Romney Medicare proposal, and presents a series of flatly untrue claims in its place.

Now, people can debate the Ryan proposal and whether it would ultimately save Medicare or not, or suggest (implausibly) that in the long run it will take as much out of Medicare as Obamacare now does, but one cannot deny that Obamacare is taking $700+ billion out of Medicare as we speak.  Florida will be the laboratory this election on whether Obama, Slow Joe Biden, and the other Democrats can piss on seniors and convince them that it’s a sun shower with a rainbow at the end. 

John M Greco

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