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. laura from willis

    Heartless is a VERY KIND word for Rep. Ryan! Hopefully, ALL Senior Citizens will show him how much we really think of him! Sounds like the PERFECT step for Romney. Makes it a lot nicer for those of us who believe that OBAMA is the right man for the job!

    August 11, 2012 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  2. American

    Beyond turning seniors' Medicare into a disastrous coupon system, Ryan would also to let Romney pay no income taxes at all.

    Americans who could least afford it will pay. No thanks.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    August 11, 2012 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  3. Randy, San Francisco

    Paul Ryan is more dangerous than Palin or Bachmann. Palin's death panels deciding grandma's fate will come to fruition if Ryan's plan to gut Medicare becomes reality.

    August 11, 2012 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  4. ron

    I'm just an average guy, but why did the proposed rates go from 10%-35% down to 10% to 25%?? Am I the only one who noticed that the 10% didn't change at all while the the 35% rate dropped by 10%. The Romney Hood team is going to get blistered.

    OBAMA/BIDEN 2012!

    August 11, 2012 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  5. njbchicago

    This coming from the party that hasn't passed a budget since Obama got elected! Oh ya, there is a lot of credibility there!

    August 11, 2012 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  6. kevin

    Are these dems for real? They destroyed the middle class with their failed policies. What class suffered the most from job losses, foreclousures, high unemployment for over 42 months and no real change to be seen for awhile? Who controls the Senate and hasn't passed a budget in 3 years? Who's health care plan is cutting $500 billion from Medicare, creating 20 new taxes, and has already driven up the cost of health care? Who is under the delusion that big federal government is needed because we are too dumb to take care of ourselves? Who do they think all these health care taxes and crap are going to fall on? At least paul Ryan has a solid plan to handle our problems without big federal government running everything!!!

    August 11, 2012 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  7. sCOTT

    Its just ashame while running down someones plan, they cannot put forth any plan of thier own. The few things OBama and the Democrats have mentioned will hurt the middle class far more then Romney or Ryan have. They say rais the tax on the rich, excpet they have allready raised the tax on middle class and poor with ObamaCare. THe plan also limits 4 prescriptions a month unless you can get prior approval from some Goverment employee in Washington who has no medical exp. Eightenn states have allready put restrictions on prescriptions, so that tells you how OPbama will hurt the seniors, Obama and his death squads.

    August 11, 2012 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  8. Reginald Conway

    So he wants to cut taxes even further for Mitt Romney (who we don't even know how much he paid in taxes in the past ten years), and he also wants to gut medicare and give my grandmother a check for dying more quickly.

    Romney just made me vote for someone other than a republican for the first time since Nixon.

    August 11, 2012 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  9. jay

    I consider this as ever worser of John McCain's choice. Both Romney and Paul are Two are of the same side of the same coin might be compatible. It is more of alienation and don't add up to Vote bank. The problem right now is Majority US Voters considers Obama as ONE AMONG THEM, not an ELITIEST like Paul or Romney! Here is the man who was the stumbling block for each and every activity Obama administration wanted to do. We all need to ask one thing, if Romney is elected CAN WE ALL GET TO PAY 15% or probably ZERO TAXES like him and IRS won't come after us?

    August 11, 2012 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  10. Joy

    It's going to be interesting to read below after I write this comment –more interesting will be the debates. Both sides are gearing up their script writers– intelligience now is feared and revere! The pen is mightier than the sword and the teleprompter! If we continue along Obama's path sadly this futile idealistic rant of his and forlorn martyrdom– will get the best of us. The need for intelligence is real now and so is a "give and take" from both sides. President Obama spews intellengent and emotional demogorgon every time he opens his mouth and refutes an idea by Republicans he stymes the thought process claiming its a set up for the poor. He spews constant rhetoric sending people into the well of fear. Everyone is claiming they are poor today (except American loved "housewives") Americans will be poor and fearful if he keep this up. Even Corporate America' is claiming they are poor. How could this President our leader allow this? Being poor is in! "Crying with 2 loaves of bread under each arm" is cool. Meanwhile all this while the global thunder is trembling in our praires and we are moaning to do something in our fields and a stale mate is baking our cities. We will be broke soon as a nation and as spirit in more ways than one.

    August 11, 2012 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  11. thomas mclaughlin

    Mitt's choice of Paul Ryan will unfortunately set back the US even further. Ryan's choice to do eliminate Medicare and go to a voucher system will surely cause havoc for many sick people; I am one of those with treatments costing $100,000.00/year to maintain my current status of health. I believe choosing Paul Ryan will now sway voters to the Democratic vote, of which I am in favor.

    August 11, 2012 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  12. Charlotte

    jusrt wait until HIS skeletons emerge.

    August 11, 2012 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  13. Charlotte

    @sCOTT are you STILL listening to Sarah Palin? Obama doesnt have any "death squads." Please learn to read, start doing so, and do more than read the FOX website.

    August 11, 2012 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  14. dave

    Well, that does it. Obama for me.

    August 11, 2012 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  15. jeff

    Let me get this straight....NO budget plan from the dems in 3 1/2 years....triple the debt....and they rip a guy who at least gave a starting point?....Me thinks some are still stuck in the wonder of "Hope and Change" and not looking at the reality...I am glad I finally woke up and did a little reading on my own and not just relying on the media (On both sides!)...

    August 11, 2012 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  16. ducdebrabant

    The press has GOT to stop referring to this as a "deficit-slashing" plan. It slashes the federal budget, yes. and raises taxes on the poor and the middle class, but those saving are passed right along to the rich in the form of tax cuts. The plan doesn't reduce the deficit by a single penny.

    August 11, 2012 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  17. Kevin

    Just love how they plan to cut taxes at the top for the richest folks, but people at the bottom of the scale will still be paying the same rates. It's amazing why people still support these plans – they blather on about morals and hot button issues, but then pass (or attempt to pass) laws that work against the interests of the people who elected them.

    August 11, 2012 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  18. Jose S.

    GOP lost my vote

    August 11, 2012 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  19. Michael Eadie

    When will the Democrats ever get it together? Democratic voters don't want to be identified as "the poor"! That's just another thing that drives people smugly to the Republicans.

    August 11, 2012 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  20. Steve C.

    LOL They won't get my vote.

    August 11, 2012 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  21. JOE

    obambi gonna lose in Nov.

    August 11, 2012 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  22. nintex

    Democrats: YAAAAAAYYYYYYY!!!!!!!

    August 11, 2012 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  23. lies from the right but mostly hate

    What? You think when dimwit dubya left office his disaster policy for the economy stopped there. We are still feeling the effects almost 4 years later thanks to people like Paul Ryan and the obstruction from the Greed Over People party

    August 11, 2012 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  24. Rural South

    This proves that Romney is a captive of the far right. This choice will cost Romney the election. My conservative neighbors like medicare and do not want it turned into a voucher system so that the rich can get more tax cuts. More tax cuts for the rich and higher health insurance costs for the elderly, that will hurt Romney everywhere, even in the rural south.

    August 11, 2012 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  25. J

    Well as usual CNN was ripe and ready to slam anyone that Romney picked and paint them in a bad light while making Obama look good despite Obama not even proposing a budget himself that had any chance of passing a bipartisan Congress. Nice work Mr. President. Slam those with ideas while you just continue to throw blindly at the dart board with more spending and bigger government.

    August 11, 2012 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
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