Romney Takes Medicare Message to Florida


Comment by Jim Campbell Citizen Journalist and Patriot

The talking heads at the WSJ are for the most part right on the money regarding the issue of Medicare  being tied to Paul Ryan’s plan to fix it.

Mitt Romney would be well advised to  hammer home the three points below, keeping it very simple for  “Seasoned Citizens.”

See the Ryan plan explained easily in 100 words.

The American Enterprise Institute

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it, I’m J.C. and I approve this message.

In his most excellent post on the Paul Ryan vice presidential pick, AEI’s Andrew Biggs highlights some key facts about Ryan’s approach to saving Medicare.

1. No one over the age of 55 would be affected in any way.

2. Traditional Medicare fee-for-service would remain available for all. “Premium support”—that is, government funding of private insurance plans chosen by individuals—is an option for those who choose it. No senior would be forced out of the traditional Medicare program against his will.

3. Overall funding for Medicare under the Ryan-Wyden plan is scheduled to grow at the same rate as under President Obama’s proposals. Is this “gutting Medicare” and “ending Medicare as we know it”? In reality, it’s the market giving seniors cheaper, higher quality choices they can take if they wish, with the traditional program remaining an option.

Wall Street Journal  (See complete article below)

By SARA MURRAY

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney spoke during a campaign rally at Flagler College on Aug. 13, in St Augustine, Fla.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla.—Mitt Romney vowed that he and his new running mate would protect Medicare and revive the housing market, as the GOP candidate pivoted back to the issues.

Mitt Romney used his first solo event since introducing Rep. Paul Ryan as his vice-presidential pick to try to ease concerns about the aggressive approach the duo would take to overhauling entitlements such as Medicare. Neil King has details on The News Hub.

Mr. Romney used his first solo event since introducing Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his vice-presidential pick to try to ease concerns about the aggressive approach the duo would take to overhauling entitlements—a salient message in this retiree-rich state.

“We want to make sure that we preserve and protect Medicare,” Mr. Romney said of the federal health-care program for retirees.

Mr. Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman who proposed the so-called Ryan budget, has advocated for Medicare changes that align closely with Mr. Romney’s proposals. The Republican presidential candidate would offer Americans a choice between traditional Medicare or a government voucher beginning in 2022. He would eventually begin increasing the Medicare eligibility age by one month each year.

The economy is expected to play a big part in the coming election. But how might the Romney-Ryan ticket frame the debate over the fiscal cliff?

The selection of Paul Ryan ensures that the campaign will be a battle of big ideas over the role of government in the 21st century.

Mr. Romney’s challenge will be convincing Floridians and other seniors that tweaks to Medicare don’t mean dismantling it—a charge that’s been levied by Democrats. Some 18% of Florida’s population received Medicare benefits in 2010, one of the highest shares in the country, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

“The truth is that the Romney-Ryan budget would end Medicare as we know it by pushing seniors into the private market and raising their health-care costs by thousands of dollars per year,” said Lis Smith, a spokeswoman for the Obama campaign. “It’s unfortunate that Mitt Romney would rather distort the truth than have an honest debate about the devastating impact the Romney-Ryan plan would have on Florida’s seniors.”

President Barack Obama, who began a three-day campaign swing through the battleground state of Iowa on Monday, aimed to draw a contrast between his and Mr. Romney’s visions.

“Governor Romney and his allies in Congress, they think that if we just get rid of more regulations on big corporations and give more tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans, if we end Medicare as we know it, make it a voucher system, then somehow this is all going to lead to jobs and prosperity for everybody,” Mr. Obama said.

Part of Mr. Romney’s defense tactic has been to try and convince voters that the president is the one slashing Medicare. “The president’s idea, for instance, for Medicare was to cut it by $700 billion,” Mr. Romney said. “That’s not the right answer.”

Under the president’s health-care law, spending on Medicare would indeed fall by hundreds of billions of dollars. But that comes from slowing the projected growth of Medicare over the next decade, not making benefits cuts.

Further tailoring his message to the Florida crowd Monday, Mr. Romney promised to take steps to help revive the housing market in a state where foreclosures and depressed home values have weighed on the economic recovery.

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He singled out the glut of homes on the government’s books, offering a more nuanced explanation of what he believes ails the housing market.

“Do you know the government owns about 200,000 homes in this country? Let’s get them out of the government’s hands and put them back in the hands of the public…put people in these homes,” Mr. Romney said.

But Mr. Romney didn’t offer any new proposals for how to cure the housing market’s ills. He has cautioned against government having a hands-on role in fixing the housing crisis, despite a plan from one of his leading economic advisers calling for intervention. Instead he has said his broader plans to restart economic growth—by lowering taxes, cutting government spending and expanding energy production—will help revive the housing sector.

“I’m going to go to work to help the housing market in Florida and across the country and the best thing I can do is to get people good jobs with rising incomes so we can buy homes again,” Mr. Romney said Monday.

In the home state of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Mr. Romney also offered a shout out to the space program.

“This is still the greatest nation on earth. I know there are people around the world who are always critical of America, have something negative to say, say our greatest days are in the past. Baloney,” Mr. Romney said. “We just landed on Mars and took a good look at what’s going on there. And I know the Chinese are planning on going to the moon—and I hope they have a good experience doing that. And I hope they stop in and take a look at our flag that was put there 43 years ago.”

Write to Sara Murray at sara.murray@wsj.com

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