Quotes of the day

posted at 9:16 pm on August 18, 2012 by Allahpundit

On the campaign trail this week, Ryan’s discussion of Medicare has focused on President Obama’s taking $716 billion from Medicare to pay for Obamacare, along with brief reassurances that he and Mitt Romney will protect the program. But in Florida today, Ryan put Medicare front and center. He both stepped up his attacks on Obamacare’s plan to change Medicare for current seniors and made a positive case for reforming the program for Americans under the age of 55. Ryan warned that Obamacare installed a board of bureaucrats that will “cut Medicare in ways that will lead to denied care for current seniors.” And he framed his case for reform in terms of family values -— in terms of his own obligation to protect Medicare as it is today for his mother, and to reform it in his generation so that his children will benefit from a social safety net and a debt-free nation…

Ryan explained that “in order to make sure we can guarantee that promise for my mom’s generation for those baby boomers retiring every day, we must reform it for my generation. To save it for this generation, you have to reform it for my generation, so it doesn’t go bankrupt when we want to retire.”…

And what did “Boston”—i.e., Romney headquarters—think of the event? One source said, “‘Boston’ was nervous early this morning. They watched it on TV. At first they were relieved. Then they were excited.”


That’s the genius of Romney’s vice-presidential pick: It explicitly invites Americans to “do the right thing.” Insofar as he’s known to the electorate at all, Paul Ryan is the man with the plan — the guy who understands that multi-trillion-dollar spendaholic government cannot continue. On that subject, Obama is the man with no plan, and no plans to get any plan. Yet the mere selection of Ryan has already improved the quality of the Obama campaign: Two weeks ago, they were denouncing Romney for killing a woman by cunningly giving her cancer five years after laying off her husband. Now they’re denouncing Ryan for killing off Medicare. The former is the opening scene from the straight-to-video Carcinogenic Zombie Mormon Venture Capitalist Apocalypse; the latter has a very very teensy-weensy gossamer thread of connection to the issues facing the United States. So we should congratulate the Democrats on a modest re-acquaintance with reality. With Ryan on the ticket, the central question facing America can’t be ducked…

For the record, Obama has already made $716 billion in Medicare cuts to pay for Obamacare. That’s three-quarters of a trillion. The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, was in Ottawa last week asking Her Majesty’s Canadian Government to chip in for the euro-zone bailout. The euro zone includes some of the richest nations in history, but it’s still not enough. And the entire euro-zone bailout is $450 billion — or a little over half the cost of the first Obama stimulus. Under Obama’s no-plan plan, there’s not enough money on the planet.


Republican strategists believe that there is really only one way to win the Medicare message wars: mount a bruising offense and attack Democrats for their own actions surrounding the popular federal health care program for senior citizens…

“It caught the Democrats a little off-guard that the fight’s being taken to them on an issue that they thought they’d just play defense on,” Stutzman said. “I just think this thing is really smart on a lot of levels that are not being appreciated: bringing up the issue now because it’s going to be brought up anyway, litigate it and win it now or at least fight it to a draw — which I’m absolutely convinced they can do — and that returns the October debate to jobs and the economy and now you’re back to a referendum on the incumbent.”…

Ultimately, though, the endgame for the Romney team on Medicare is to use the issue to move the discussion back to jobs and the economy, which is where the campaign wants the focus to be heading into Election Day. That isn’t an argument, however, that fits neatly into a soudbite.

“Romney can win this argument, but not until he finds a way to shift it back to the economy,” said Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California and a veteran GOP strategist. “There are connectors between Medicare and deficits and economic growth.”


If the past week has been any indication, the Democrats are not well prepared to deal with this strategy. I doubt they wanted to spend a week explaining why and how they cut Medicare for current seniors while still failing to avert the program’s future collapse. They’re still struggling to explain that, and with their first few excuses — we didn’t do it, Ryan did it too, they’re not real cuts, and seniors don’t really need those benefits we cut — mostly fallen by the wayside in a matter of days, they have turned to abject double counting, insisting that even though they spent the money elsewhere (on Obamacare), their Medicare cuts nonetheless increase the future solvency of the Medicare program…

The longer they flail, the less likely the Democrats are to be able to effectively bring up Medicare themselves in this election season, and the more likely Romney is to keep voters focused on the economy in the fall—and therefore focused on what they like least about the incumbent president. It’s easy to see what Romney will be running on in September and October. But what will Obama be running on?


“Like a lot of Americans, when I think about Medicare, it’s not just a program,” Ryan told the mostly-elderly crowd at The Villages, a central Florida retirement community that is billed as the world’s largest. “It’s what my mom relies on. It’s what my grandma had.”…

“Medicare was there for our family, for my grandma, when we needed it then, and Medicare is there for my mom while she needs that now, and we need to keep that guaranteed,” the 42-year-old House Budget Committee chairman said, describing the experience of being one of the primary caregivers for his grandmother, who suffered from advanced Alzheimer’s.


Obama expressed some artificial bemusement that the GOP ticket has focused on in recent days on Medicare, with Romney using a whiteboard as a prop Friday in South Carolina and Ryan stumping Saturday with his mother in The Villages retirement community in Florida.

“You’d think they’d avoid talking about Medicare, given the fact that both of them have proposed to voucherize the Medicare system,” Obama said. I guess they figured the best defense is playing on offense.”…

“Their plan would put Medicare on track to be ended as we know it,” he said. “It would be an entirely different plan. It would be a plan in which you could not count on health care because it would have to come out of your pocket. That’s the real difference between our plans on Medicare. That’s the choice in this election and that’s why I’m running for a second term as president.”

Click the image to watch.


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