Romney, Ryan field Medicare question in first joint interview
August 12th, 2012
07:30 PM ET
2 years ago

Romney, Ryan field Medicare question in first joint interview

(CNN) – In their first joint interview as the 2012 Republican ticket, Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan on Sunday addressed questions about Ryan's Medicare proposal, which at least one critic says would "end Medicare as we know it" and others have speculated could present Romney electoral challenges in senior citizen-rich Florida.

Ryan, however, has said major changes are necessary to rein in levels of federal spending on the program which premium payments and payroll taxes cannot cover. He used a personal example to make the point in his Sunday interview.

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"My mom is a Medicare senior in Florida," he said on CBS. "Our point is we need to preserve their benefits, because government made promises to them that they've organized their retirements around."

"In order to make sure we can do that, you must reform it for those of us who are younger. And we think these reforms are good reforms. That have bipartisan origins. They started from the Clinton commission in the late '90s," he continued.

On Sunday, Romney campaign aide Brendan Buck said Ryan would campaign in central Florida next weekend, a rebuff to critics who said the vice presidential candidate was skipping Romney's stops in Florida this week to avoid questions about his Medicare proposals from senior citizens there.

Romney has not made Ryan's plan a part of his platform in the 2012 campaign, and in a set of campaign talking points obtained by CNN on Saturday, surrogates are reminded, "Of course they aren't going to have the same view on every issue."

A suggested answer to questions about how Ryan will play among independent voters read "Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have a bipartisan plan to strengthen Medicare by giving future seniors the choice between traditional Medicare and a variety of private plans."

In the interview, Romney turned the Medicare question into a criticism of President Barack Obama, repeating a line he uses on the campaign trail.

"There's only one president that I know of in history that robbed Medicare, $716 billion to pay for a new risky program of his own that we call Obamacare," he said. "What Paul Ryan and I have talked about is saving Medicare, is providing people greater choice in Medicare, making sure it's there for current seniors."

The $716 billion figure appears to come from a Congressional Budget Office evaluation from July 24, which measured the impact of repealing the health care overhaul known as "Obamacare."

The report says that under the repeal measure, "Spending for Medicare would increase by an estimated $716 billion over that 2013-2022 period."

Those spending increases would be a result of more spending on hospital and medical insurance, offset by a decrease in prescription drug coverage.

The letter also notes that the projected $716 billion increase in Medicare spending if the measure is repealed does not signal a $716 billion decrease if the measure stays in place - which is Romney's argument.

"For various reasons discussed elsewhere in this document, the estimated budgetary effects of repealing the ACA...are not equivalent to an estimate of the budgetary effects of the ACA with the signs reversed," the report says.

Romney, in his remarks, stressed that his plan would ensure "No changes, by the way, for current seniors, or those nearing retirement."

"But looking for young people down the road and saying, 'We're going to give you a bigger choice.' In America, the nature of this country has been giving people more freedom, more choices. That's how we make Medicare work down the road," he continued.

Romney announced Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee and a seven-term member of Congress from Wisconsin, as his vice presidential pick on Saturday at a campaign rally in Virginia.

CNN's Peter Hamby contributed to this report

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Filed under: 2012 VP Pick • Medicare • Mitt Romney • Paul Ryan
soundoff (63 Responses)
  1. steven harnack

    Yeah, they want to give you the "freedom" to let Wall St. speculators play with the money that you are going to need. The "freedom" to place all of the decisions about your health care in the hands of an HMO. And if they have to lie to get you to agree? Well, it's for your own good in the long run.

    August 12, 2012 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  2. Larry L

    Ryan's concept of vouchers for Medicare is a gift to HMOs and insurance companies and a stick-in-the-eye for senior citizens. Does anybody really believe the "bigger choice" they promise is anything but more protection for the ultra-rich? The rich will use the vouchers as petty cash for their healthcare and the poor will soon discover the vouchers won't buy good healthcare – that will be reserved for the wealthy. It's the Republican way... This career politician is a lap-dog for the rich – nothing more.

    August 12, 2012 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  3. namryan

    So now there are two liars instead of one... wow!

    August 12, 2012 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  4. SafeJourney

    Paul Ryans medicare reform is in his budget plan which is to take from the middle class and poor and seniors and GIVE to the rich like Mitt.
    No thank you Mr Vulture and Mr Voucher

    Obama/Biden 2012

    August 12, 2012 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  5. Tony

    Tax reduction for the wealthy:
    When will this topic or belief ever going to end? How long people still believe in it after two many times for so long with failure as we have seen in periods after two tax break for Presidents: Ronald Reagan, One term President: Senior Bush, and two terms Junior Bush including one term under Obama (Including Obama because this reduction tax policy still is active). If we take this belief away, what else is there beside defense spending for foreign countries, reduction tax for Oil companies.

    August 12, 2012 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  6. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    If you do not 'rein in' the costs of medicare, there will be no way to pay for the $5 trillion in tax cuts for the wealthy under the Ryan Romney Plan. After all, if the poor an middle class don't pay for the wealthy, who will?

    August 12, 2012 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  7. lyn

    Now Ryan is doing the "old soft shoe" after hearing the uproar from his mother's generation. Smoke and mirrors won't hack it, seniors can't be bambozzled like the Tea Party fanatics.

    August 12, 2012 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  8. Tony

    Ronald Reagan and Senior Bush (3 terms), economy went down that is why President Clinton won.
    Two terms under Bush Junior + plus Obama (3 terms), look at where we are. The economy is still bad. Is it enough or we want couple more tax breaks under Romney.

    August 12, 2012 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  9. Mike Texoma

    Apparently, then, we start with a very large lie – that Obama cut $716 billion out of Medicare, which the CBO says he has not. But then we go on to extoll the virtues of privatizing the system. We have the option of purchasing private insurance with some kind of a government voucher. In other words, the proposal is to hand trillions of dollars of health care business over to the same insurance industry which brought us policy limits and preexisting conditions and cancellations for illness. We are asked to turn around and go backwards. We are told we have to accept the kind of abuses Obamacare moved us away from, in order to "save the system". Lie number two. In fact, the system is not in crisis. There are many ways to fix it short of turning around and going back in the wong direction.

    August 12, 2012 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  10. AL in West Palm Beach, FL

    "The projected $716 billion increase in Medicare spending if the measure is repealed does not signal a $716 billion decrease if the measure stays in place – which is Romney's argument."

    So ROBMEY and RYAN are against "increase spending" in DC, but would repeal a law that actually decreases spending?

    How does that make sense again? PLEASE ONLY GROWN UPS NEED TO ANSWER.

    August 12, 2012 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  11. once upon a horse

    I think they should ask BOTH of them how the budget effects the lower middle class and the poor...the wealthy will not be very much effected by it other than getting more tax breaks from what I have heard. The Catholic bishops and some of the nuns were NOT impressed with the Ryan budget and some of their questions appeared to make Ryan uncomfortable. I think this needs to be addressed as well.

    August 12, 2012 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  12. labman57

    Paul Ryan and his fellow health insurance lobby lackeys in the Republican Party seek to eliminate Medicare as we know it and replace it with a voucher system that will cover only a small fraction of the elderly's health care needs. His plan is designed to take a "General MacArthur" approach to destroying our nation's Medicare system - Ryan's proposal will not make it immediately die … he simply wants it to slowly fade away.
    … and with it the ability of future senior citizens to obtain affordable chronic condition treatment and preventative health care.
    And just to top it off, Ryan supports the privatization of Social Security so that Americans would be forced to play Russian Roulette with their retirement savings.

    By selecting Ryan as his running mate, Romney has embraced the notion that the ultra-wealthy 1%er tail wags the GOP dog ... and the middle class should get stuck with cleaning up the lawn.

    August 12, 2012 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  13. Af

    Romney, I see today you put your Mormon Bible on the side to be able to practice the liar, you lie to us about your taxes, you lie to us about your foreign investment. Today you lie to us by saying that Obama robbed $716 Billion ,. You lie to us by saying Ryan will protect medicare. R+R = Robberie.

    August 12, 2012 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  14. Four and The Door

    Here is the difference. Romney and Ryan will keep the promise of Medicare. Obama and Biden will do nothing but let it go broke and then find someone else to blame. Romney/ Ryan 2012.

    August 12, 2012 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  15. elizabeth

    i'm glad they picked ryan. now we can crush Plastic Man & His Moster at the same time.

    August 12, 2012 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  16. elizabeth

    that's Monster

    August 12, 2012 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  17. Thomas

    What about his prediction on the countries credit rating , he was wrong then as well .
    Ryan also stood by then Vice President Dick Cheney in stating deficits don't mater .
    Ryan also supported the Iraq war and was adamant about WMDs.
    He also wanted to privatize Social Security. Imagine what would have happened when the maker collapsed.

    No , I can't vote for the young Flip Flopper.
    For a guy who listens to Rage Against the Machine , he is a contradiction.

    August 12, 2012 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  18. Gumby

    Get to Florida and get to Florida fast. You need a clear and concise explanation of your Medicare proposal before the attack ads explain if for you.

    August 12, 2012 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  19. Spike2014

    While Obama had his cronies lie about Ryan's plans to save Medicare, Obama has no Plans at all except to drag his opponents through the mud. Hey libs, if it is the 99% against the 1%, you shouldn't have to worry about the election–Obama will get 99% of the vote, right? If you care more about your kids and grand kids than yourselves, you had better vote Obama out. If you're really that selfish, go ahead and vote for Barrak.

    August 12, 2012 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  20. Randy, San Francisco

    Instead of having the top 1% pay their fair share of taxes, Romney/Ryan will shift the burden of higher health premiums to seniors and the middle class.

    August 12, 2012 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  21. ED FL

    Wonder if these two GOP draft dodgers will now try to claim there visit to a Navy ship can be considered military duty for them. I would be ashamed to visit a military installation if I were draft dodgers like most GOP politicos. especiallyif I were running for office to be Commander in Chief and/or next in line for an HONORABLE POSITION THAT I DODGED.

    August 12, 2012 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  22. Jerubbaal

    So Romney/Ryan are attempting to mischaracterize a 716 billion savings to medicare over a 10 year time frame as a reduction of payments to the medicare program. All this to cover the heartless policies in the Romney/Ryan budget. I've worked for 30 years and I want to know where is my return on investment for all the tax dollars that I have paid into the system. I now have to replan my retirement and only have 17 years to make up the additional thousands of dollars that healthcare will cost me upon retirement if the Romney/Ryan plan is activated.

    August 12, 2012 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  23. Ideas, Ideals, not ideologies

    What's wrong with Medicare that it needs to be saved? Why is ideological leanings directing the solutions to future shortfalls? We all know that those vouchers won't be enough to future healthcare costs. It will not work in the real world where private insurers, which by the way are in it for profit, act middle men for the provision of healthcare services. They cannot stay in business caring for sick seniors for less than what the gvmt currently spends. Therefore, seniors will have to find the extra money from elsewhere.
    We must keep our promise to preserve Medicare in its present form for future generations. It's outragious for politicians to decide that those who will become seniors in the next decade are not deserving of the same benefits that current seniors enjoy after they pay in the system for at least thirty five years. It's already projected that those will receive less in SSI benefits than they contributed.
    The more sensible approach to preserving Medicare would be to take steps to improve treatment for seniors that reduce multiple hospitalization for the same issue, reward doctors for better outcome as opposed to more treatment, encourage people to take charge of their health developing healthy habits while they are still young, and eliminate fraud which by far is the biggest waste of money.
    Healthcare providers agree that these measure will save more money instead taking the coward way and abandoning future generations to the greedy corporations. By the way smaller government does not mean lower spending as these politicians would have you believe. The services that the govmnt provides, which for the most part are essential, do not disappear when the government stops providing them. Gvmnt have to hire private contractors to do these things or the burden gets shifted to the individuals inthe forms of higher fees for things that the government requires you to have.

    August 12, 2012 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  24. Ideas, Ideals, not ideologies

    I mean to write outrageous

    August 12, 2012 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  25. DickK

    If there is anything that this ticket stands for it is FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY! Something that we can't get enough of at the present time.

    August 12, 2012 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
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