Democratic attacks on Ryan focus on changes to Medicare and Medicaid
August 11th, 2012
07:01 AM ET
2 years ago

Democratic attacks on Ryan focus on changes to Medicare and Medicaid

(CNN) - When Rep. Paul Ryan first revealed his House GOP budget proposal in the Spring of 2011, Democratic reaction was swift and biting. One much-maligned ad from a liberal advocacy group showed a Ryan look-alike pushing an elderly woman in a wheelchair off a cliff, ending with the tagline: "Is America beautiful without Medicare? Ask Paul Ryan and his friends in Congress."

As Mitt Romney prepares to hit the trail with Ryan as his running mate, Democrats eager to pounce on the newly created Republican ticket are almost certainly preparing similar - if not quite so drastic - attacks against Ryan's controversial budget plan.

Judging from their past criticisms of Ryan's plan, Democrats seem likely to paint the apparent running mate as heartless for his proposed reforms to Medicare and Medicaid, the government-run heath care programs for senior citizens, the poor, and the disabled. And his proposals to alter the tax code, which have drawn Democratic ire, seem ripe for inclusion in ongoing attacks on Romney's own plans, which his rivals claim would benefit the rich while hurting the middle and lower class.

The $3.5 trillion Ryan budget plan seeks to stem ballooning federal debt and deficit by slashing spending and reforming Medicare and Medicaid. The House GOP plan also calls for a reduction in individual tax rates and brackets. Instead of today's six brackets, with rates from 10% to 35%, it calls for just two - 10% and 25%. The proposal would eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax, while dropping the top corporate tax rate from 35% to 25%.

Democrats – including President Barack Obama - compare Ryan's plan to an attack on the poor.

"It is thinly-veiled Social Darwinism," Obama said in April. "It is antithetical to our entire history as a land of opportunity and upward mobility for everyone who's willing to work for it - a place where prosperity doesn't trickle down from the top, but grows outward from the heart of the middle class."

He added that "by gutting the very things we need to grow an economy that's built to last - education and training; research and development; infrastructure - it's a prescription for decline."

During that speech, Obama mentioned Romney, who was then in the midst of a bitter Republican primary battle, for the first time as a potential opponent.

"He said that he's very supportive of this new budget and he even called it marvelous, which is a word you don't often hear when it comes to describing a budget," Obama said.

According to Ryan, Obama used his speech to "distort the truth and divide Americans in order to distract from his failed record."

In his opposition to Ryan's budget, Obama echoed the words of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who said in May 2011 the plan amounted to "right-wing social engineering."

"I think that that is too big a jump," Gingrich said, referring to Ryan's proposal to replace Medicare with a voucher program. "I think what you want to have is a system where people voluntarily migrate to better outcomes, better solutions, better options."

Gingrich later softened his remarks, saying he supported Ryan's proposal.

Other Democrats have aligned with Obama's assessment of the Ryan budget. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi wrote on Twitter in April the plan was "a path to poverty for America's seniors & children and a road to riches for big oil."

And Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida – the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee – called the plan a "death trap" in April 2011.

"You are going to have some seniors not survive because they won't be able to either get access to a nursing home or they will get kicked out of a nursing home and they will have to make it on their own," Wasserman Schultz said on CNN.

Those attacks – that the plan would hurt middle class families while benefiting the rich – are closely aligned with Democrats' hits on Romney. Obama's campaign and his allied super PAC have both run television advertisements portraying the presumptive GOP nominee as both out of touch with working Americans and focused solely on cutting taxes for the wealthy.

With Ryan as a running mate, those attacks seem unlikely to subside.

CNN's Tom Cohen contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2012 VP Pick • Budget • Mitt Romney • Paul Ryan
soundoff (70 Responses)
  1. Granny

    All the liberal lies that they will try to throw out there against Ryan won't stick. Finally America has a chance to get back on track with sound fiscal responsibility. Obama had 4 years and has accomplished nothing. No budget, no jobs, no nothing! Obama's out in 2012!

    August 11, 2012 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  2. Russ

    Romney blew it. Instead of going for someone who could bring in independents, and disillusioned Democrats, he played to the extreme right. Look for Obama's poll numbers to increase. Also, he violated the first rule of VP selecting. Pick someone who is capable of being President. Not Paul Ryan.

    August 11, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  3. Jaf

    There are far too many gullible/stupid/ignorant people in this country.

    Regarding medicare/medicaid, it is something that Paul Ryan wishes to protect by offering solutions. The other party offers no solutions (unless taxing the rich is a solution...haha) to fixing what ails these problems. Democrats just want to kick the can further down the road. On the other hand, Republicans like Ryan actually are willing to make tough decisions regardless of how unpopular they may be.

    If you think Ryan's plan is bad, well, see what kicking the can down the road does. It'll be even worse.

    August 11, 2012 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  4. Russ

    Ryan the Romney Killer. This just confirms that Romney lives in a bubble!

    August 11, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  5. Patrick in Minnesota

    It's funny to see all the repubs hailing Ryan as the second coming of Christ. Great, well then say goodbuy to Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, and anything else you may need when you retire. Great Plan!

    August 11, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  6. Patrick in Minnesota

    Tim, It's Paul Ryan, not Ron Paul. Just as bad though.

    August 11, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  7. TownC

    Ironic that the administration that is destroying Medicare is attacking Mr. Ryan. Typical hypocrisy and just plain deceit and meanness coming from Mr. Hope and Change and his campaign. Mitt and Paul 2012!

    August 11, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  8. peckbag

    For some reason these guys hate the middle class – the traditional strength of America – and want to destroy it. I guess to them it's better to reign in hell.

    August 11, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  9. JOHN

    Sorry Granny but Obama stays in 2012!!!

    August 11, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  10. TJeff1776

    The Romney-Ryan ticket is an unlikely winner. The majority of the voting electorate don't identify with them- nor most of the goals they seek. One of the worst is healthcare. The Romney threat to destroy Obamacare on his first day in office is met with massive skepticism when nothing is offered to replace it. And Ryan's plan to replace Medicare with scaled down Federal supplements, which, no doubt thereafter would continue to be scaled down........would be a disaster. And whereas
    Obamacare is there in black and white law of the land, the Republican led Romney health plan is a wilo-de-wisp unexplained.

    August 11, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  11. ib42

    The disconnect of these so called g o p cretins from the lives of the vast majority of Americans is shocking!
    Nothing grand about anyone who thinks only from the lofty vantage point of extreme wealth and privilege.
    Not unlike all the dictators who have come to a well deserved end with their obscene, grandiose lifestyles. They cannot know what it's like to struggle daily just to survive.
    Mr. Obama is compassionate. There is no other choice.

    August 11, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  12. Roniram

    Granny sounds like a typical Republican.... No, No, No! They say no to everything, then say "He's done nothing". Make sense to me!

    August 11, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  13. Clint, Wa.

    I am going in and talk with my doctor to see if I qualify for a, Death with Dignity Prescription. Because if, if these two clowns get elected, it is for sure, a prescription for Death without Dignity for the USA.

    August 11, 2012 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  14. Darwin

    The rich love to play survival of the fittest, but they sure do squeal when they get eaten.

    August 11, 2012 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  15. realitypolice

    The Class War strategy is a loser. Obama and his minions are sorely overestimating the number of middle-class Americans who are stupid enough to believe that attacking American business does anything to help them. The jealousy of success he is counting on is not there- most Americans still respect success.

    August 11, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  16. There Will Be Much Crying With Ryan

    Finally Romney has shown his true colors by selecting Ryan who would literally Destroy Medicare. This is a sad day for America but yet America is smart enough to know that every person has to grow old at some point, some are already there and others are fast approaching that age. With Ryan's plan, they will have no peace, nothing but Worry and much Concern to look forward to while the rich have nothing but smiles on their faces. That is why America's seniors, the poor, minorities, women, and many other groups need to Support OBAMA/BIDEN in 2012!! Let's not let the Republicans take away from us what we have rightfully earned working all of our lives!!

    August 11, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  17. SafeJourney

    Wow, the Ryan plan cuts taxes even more for the wealthy on the backs of the middle class and poor. Very sad day for America if Mitt is elected

    August 11, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  18. sick

    Ryan is ONE of the reasons Obama couldn't get anything done.. He fully admits thats it's his way or the highway.. Not that Obama is blameless or even all that great. In fact he is a fairly empty shell of a president.. But to gut the poor and end up with slums the like of a third world country isn't the answer either.

    August 11, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  19. Ray E. (Georgia)

    I don't know what the Liberal's and Democrats are complaining about. They have had 75 years to fix the problem. So if everything isn't fixed by now I have to ask, Wha Hoppen?? You want another 75 years? Borrowing 40 cents out of every dollar is your plan? 100 Million living off the Government is your plan?? Some plan.

    August 11, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  20. CA Liberal

    So it's the Billionaire Boy's Club vs. Obama. These guys would turn us into Mexico. A few very wealthy who own everything and the rest of us dirt poor or dead. I guess that would solve the immigration problem.

    August 11, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
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