The bipartisan battle over Medicare has escalated in the wake of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's selection of House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as his running mate, the New York Times reports (Pear, New York Times, 8/14).
Amid criticism of Ryan's plan to alter Medicare, Republicans are countering that Democrats voted for $700 billion in Medicare cuts by approving the Affordable Care Act. Romney highlighted the issue in his stump speech and a television advertisement that was released on Tuesday (Sanger-Katz, National Journal, 8/14).
The ad states that President Obama cut $700 billion from Medicare to fund the Affordable Care Act and adds that "the money you paid for your guaranteed health care is going to a massive new government program that's not for you" (Shear/Wheaton, "The Caucus," New York Times, 8/14).
Mike Shields, political director of the National Republican Congressional Committee, in a memo Tuesday urged the GOP to continue to discuss Medicare. "We want this fight," Shields wrote, adding, "Any opportunity we have to talk about ObamaCare, and the $700 billion in Medicare cuts that paid for it, is an opportunity we will never pass up" (National Journal, 8/14).
Meanwhile, Obama administration officials responded to GOP criticism, noting that the $700 billion came from eliminating subsidies to insurers and cutting waste and fraud, neither of which would affect health services or coverage for beneficiaries, The Hill's "Hill Tube" reports (Sink, "Hill Tube," The Hill, 8/14).
Lis Smith, a spokesperson for the Obama campaign, said the ad is "dishonest and hypocritical," adding that the savings "do not cut a single guaranteed Medicare benefit."
According to the Times, Democrats hope to deflect Republican attacks by highlighting that Ryan's budget proposal, includes similar savings -- about $700 billion between 2013 and 2022, according to the Congressional Budget Office (New York Times, 8/14).
Democrats also went on the offensive. Senior Obama adviser David Axelrod said, "The changes that the president made in the Affordable Care Act, taking subsidies away from insurance companies within the Medicare system, helped us lengthen the life, the viability, financial viability, of Medicare by almost a decade," adding that Romney and Ryan "would repeal that, and Medicare would be bankrupt by 2016" (Glueck, Politico, 8/14).
Romney Clarifies That Ryan Will Adopt His Plan
During his first solo appearance since selecting Ryan as his running mate, Romney on Wednesday again sought to distance himself from Ryan's Medicare plan, "CBS This Morning" reports.
When asked about Ryan's proposal to alter Medicare, Romney said that Ryan would support his budget plan. "Congressman Ryan has joined my campaign, and his campaign is my campaign now," Romney said.
Romney went on to vow that he would restore the cuts the Affordable Care Act makes to Medicare. He said, "The president's cuts of $716 billion to Medicare, those cuts are going to be restored if I become president and Paul Ryan becomes vice president." He added he would restore the funds so that "current seniors can know that trust fund is not being raided, and we're going to make sure -- and get Medicare on track to be solvent long-term on a permanent basis" ("CBS This Morning," 8/15).