Elections 2012: Paul Ryan Ready To Medicare Debate

Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan weighed into the ongoing debate over Medicare at a public rally here Wednesday, inviting a public argument about the future of the program.

The presumptive vice presidential nominee addressed the popular health care system for seniors on Wednesday night, making his pitch directly to voters for the first time since being picked Mitt Romney’s running mate. Photo: monkeyz_uncle/Flickr

Presumptive vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan spoke about the issue of Medicare for the first time since being tapped as Mitt Romney’s running mate, telling a crowd of more than 1,000 people Wednesday night at his alma mater, Ohio’s Miami University, that the conversation is one that Republicans welcome, reports The Washington Post.

“The president, I am told, is talking about Medicare today,” Ryan said. “We want this debate. We need this debate, and we will win this debate.

“What I don’t think he’ll be telling people is that the president took $716 billion from the Medicare program — he raided it — to pay for Obamacare.”

Ryan takes aim at Obama for $716 billion in Medicare Advantage savings and cuts to providers over the next decade brought about through the national health care law, arguing that the White House “raided it to pay for Obamacare.”

However, while slamming Obama for Medicare cuts, Ryan failed to mention that his own plan actually leaves Obama’s savings in place.

Medicare is the second-biggest item in the entire federal budget and one of the fastest-growing. Over the past 30 years, its cost has doubled as a share of our gross domestic product, and over the next 30, it’s on track to double again, writes Chicago Tribune.

It means that the Medicare Hospital Insurance trust fund is expected to run out of money by 2024. Either drastic spending cuts or staggering tax increases would be needed.

Ryan’s plan would not mean draconian cuts for people already on Medicare or about to be. The only people subject to most of the changes are those under age 55.

According to The Huff Post, the Obama campaign responded swiftly to Ryan’s comments Wednesday night. “Today, Mitt Romney forced Paul Ryan to attack his own budget,” Obama campaign spokesman Danny Kanner said in a statement.

“Congressman Ryan knows that the $716 billion in Medicare savings that he included in two of his own budgets do not cut a single guaranteed Medicare benefit. It’s a shame that someone picked for his ‘strong beliefs’ is now abandoning them just to help Mr. Romney score a political point,” Kanner said.

Meanwhile, President Obama weighed in on the Medicare issue Wednesday as well. Speaking to an outdoor crowd in Dubuque, Iowa, Obama accused Romney and Ryan of being “dishonest” about Medicare.

“I have strengthened Medicare,” he said. “I have made reforms that have saved millions of seniors with Medicare hundreds of dollars on their prescription drugs. I have proposed reforms that will save Medicare money by getting rid of wasteful spending in the health care system — reforms that will not touch your Medicare benefits, not by a dime.”

Ryan on Wednesday also attacked the president for the tone of the campaign.

“President Obama is out of ideas,” Ryan said. “That is why his campaign is based on anger and division.”

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