Democratic attacks on Ryan focus on changes to Medicare and Medicaid
August 11th, 2012
07:01 AM ET
6 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. Marie MD

    The bryan plan is basically raising taxes on those who can least afford while still giving the rich all the loopholes and tax breaks making them even richer.
    I wonder if we can go camp out in trump's house in Palm Beach as so many seniors will have no money do anything but buy a tent. Sort of what he allowed gadaffi to do when he visited the states.

    August 11, 2012 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  2. lies from the right but mostly hate

    Paul Ryan gop's voice on fiscal matters. Hope your not poor or middle class you think its bad now, with Ryan the gop voice will be in charge of population control with his bent policy ideas.

    August 11, 2012 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  3. Nicholas White

    The pick of Ryan as VP plays right into the hands of the Obama team. He and Romney will now be billed as a pair of heartless pols who will cut most social, educational, environmental programs thinking that that, combined with less taxes on the very rich will magically create jobs and spur economic growth. That plan is moronic. They are destined to lose!

    August 11, 2012 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  4. Nietodarwin

    Romney picks someone who comes off as more selfish, hearless, greedy, rigid and downright evil than himself. The election will go to Obama, but at least we have another fight to look forward to, A BUS FULL OF NUNS vs. A Mormon and Catholic band of nutty Romneyhoods.

    August 11, 2012 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  5. Contrary Mary

    Glad he chose Ryan!!! Romney just put another nail in his coffin – this one to close it. Romney has little or no chance to beat Obama but by choosing Ryan, had he any chance, it just went "poof". No senior citizen would ever vote for these two Robin Hoods. Today is a good day for America and a really great one for Obama, for next 4 year leader come November.

    August 11, 2012 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  6. Pat in IL

    Ryan gets his philosophy from his long time love of the Ayn Rand philosophy....every man for himself, and there is no higher power than self. He believes in self, not the collective, and is not a person who should be elected to a position of power and trust. His own personal "platform" is so far right, it can't even be associated that's just plain creepy and unrealistic – sort of cult-like.

    August 11, 2012 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  7. pinko

    Say goodby to social security and medicare.

    August 11, 2012 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  8. Barbara

    There are other ways to fix our economic problems rather than going after Medicare and Medicaid. Most seniors are struggling with the coverage as it is. Romney and Ryan should not underestimate the power of older Americans to organize, rally and march on Washington, should coverage be slashed. We're not all using walkers yet. If Romeny has cutting Medicare as part of his campaign, Obama will win hands down. Romney has so much money, he is completely out of touch with the struggles of middle America especially in regard to the cost of health care. His wife has MS? How would he feel if he had to actually worry about how he was going to pay for her condition and her meds? Does he realize how many people out there can't afford health insurance and therefore go without getting diseases treated? I'm a republican. But if he goes after these programs, I will vote for Obama. We need a single payer health care system... funded by corportate taxes, payroll taxes, special taxes on alcohol, tobacco and firearms. There is a million ways to raise the revenue necessary to fund such a system. When is someone going to really stand up for Americans and do what's right? These guys forget that they work for us... not the other way around.

    August 11, 2012 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  9. southexas

    Good Job Mitt R. since your chances of winning in Nov. just went from 45% to 30%.

    August 11, 2012 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  10. John Tater

    ("Jeff," "Scott," and "Kevin," huh? Alrighty. ) Ryan made his name by, after several failed attempts, finding a way to make his heartless budget cuts acceptable to his fellow republicans. He did this by saying that the destruction of medicare and medicaid etc wouldn't happen to current voters, but to a future generation. If you believe that a government should help the rich get richer and do nothing for the other 98 percent of its citizens, you might like Syria, The Sudan, or Malaysia.

    August 11, 2012 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  11. Peter Clarke

    I'm retired and although I believe we should have responsible federal budget. Balancing it on the backs of Seniors, the disabled and the poor is not the answer. During my working life (50 years) I generally paid about 23% of my income (wages) in Federal tax. Not including social security of medicare contributions. I am sick to death with the GOP's bigotry and right wing social agenda. Summed up there is absolutely no reason for myself or friends to ever vote for a GOP Presidential ticket... None whatsoever.

    August 11, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  12. NOBAMA

    The most important family policy, urban policy, labor policy, minority policy, and foreign policy America can have is an expanding entrepreneurial economy of high-wage, high-skilled jobs.
    Bill Clinton

    August 11, 2012 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  13. NOBAMA

    I do not believe we can repair the basic fabric of society until people who are willing to work have work. Work organizes life. It gives structure and discipline to life.


    August 11, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  14. NOBAMA

    BILL CLINTON, speech at Democratic National Convention, July 26, 2004

    The best social program is a good job.

    August 11, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  15. David in NC

    Finally some real leadership with REAL solutions... not just "Hope and Change" and "Forward"

    August 11, 2012 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  16. Pinkflam

    Another clueless loser. This should pretty much be the nail in the Robme campaign coffin.

    August 11, 2012 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  17. JWright

    Romney is true to form in picking Ryan for his VP candidate: all for the rich. Goodby to social security, medicare, and medicad. Hello to low paying, minimum paying jobs with little, or no, health benefits; hello to out-sourcing of jobs!

    August 11, 2012 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  18. Dan

    So then, tell me what happens when the treasury can't float anymore debt.
    The last three years of unrestrained spending has brought us ever closer to that point.
    Health care????....homelessness will be the major issue then...basic survival!

    August 11, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  19. Retired3

    Remember the uproar at a town hall meeting when Ryan came out with his Medicare plan??? If you thought that was bad, just wait.

    August 11, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |

    What do you expect from armour hot dog car driver and romney the clown and son of boss tax cheat !!!!!!

    August 11, 2012 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  21. Tim

    While I voted for Obama in 2008 I havent been Thrilled with him as president. My mind was open for the 2012 election and Romney actually had a chance at my vote. That chance died when he picked Ron Paul as his running mate. Are U kidding me. Romney selecting Ron Paul as his running mate is about as bad as when McCain selected Palin as his running mate. Does Romney Want to Lose?

    August 11, 2012 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  22. Jean Sartre

    Can an android, corporate, vulture capitalist, tax cheat find true love with a nerdy, Ayn Rand loving, wannabe CPA?

    Time will tell...

    At least, it gets Ryan out of Wisconsin...

    August 11, 2012 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  23. Jenny Rome Ga

    I particularly love the theme from Independence day blaring after the speech. Is he the alien or the savior? I am listening to Romney now. No I am not there yet but I am listening>

    August 11, 2012 10:29 am at 10:29 am |

    Gop bafoons party train wreck with BACHMANN ,Ryan and romney ,son of boss tax cheat on board . Only stupid brain dead republican bafoon voters would vote for romney son of boss tax cheat and Ryan the armour hot dog car driver for any public office .I guess it must be true that Gop bafoons don't get old and need these programs ,republicans should vote for Obama too!!!!!

    August 11, 2012 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  25. jakat

    It's sad we live in a world where political rhetoric is putting the welfare of our elderly, disabled or infirm "on the fence" between medical care and death for the sake of budget proposals. That is the scenario, if Ryan would have his budget plan take affect. Heartless, thoughtless businessmen choose heartless, thoughtless running mates. From what we've heard by Ryan, he's the perfect match. You just better hope the public "wakes up" to see the consquenses of such plans, or out future will include the dooms day predictions that would put most of the US with less spending power, paying for the budget shortfalls, but getting a minimal tax break, which is what Ryan proposed. Being disabled with many medical needs puts many people in jepordy with a stripped down version of medicare, often between life and death. Is that something to budget out of the program?

    August 11, 2012 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
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