Friday, August 17, 2012

Ryan and Medicare

What’s New Today

Story # 1 thru #3 are signs of desperation by the Democrats.  #4 is a link so you can read the Ryan Plan.  #5 asks if the Ryan plan cuts Medicare.  #6 explores how Obamacare cuts Medicare.  #7 explains why Obama and the Democrats are losing the Medicare battle.  #8 takes a look at the Biden factor and #9 asks if Obama can adapt to a new strategy. 

Today’s Thoughts

"the revelation that Biden’s “very good friend” and donor, John Hynansky, received a taxpayer loan to open a business selling foreign luxury cars in a foreign country using foreign labor stands in stark contrast to the Obama-Biden 2012 campaign charges that the Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan campaign stands for breaks for big business and shipping American jobs overseas.

It’s interesting that we have a left wing shooting at the FRC and the coverage by the MSM is mostly silence.  Of course the MSM isn’t biased and if you don’t believe that ask them or the Democratic Party. 

Since World War II, 10 U.S. recessions have been followed by a recovery that lasted at least three years. An Associated Press analysis shows that by just about any measure, the one that began in June 2009 is the weakest.

Lie of the Day

I don't think you or anybody who's been watching the campaign would say that in any way we have tried to divide the country. We've always tried to bring the country together,” President Obama said in an interview with Entertainment Tonight.

1.  Signs of Desperation—Obama Negative Campaigning

While President Barack Obama campaigned in 2008 promising to rise above petty politics, he’s showing a more down-and-dirty side in his re-election campaign

Obama this week tested a joke on the stump alluding to Republican Mitt Romney’s treatment of a family pet, and he declined to back away from a controversial jab at Romney by Vice President Joe Biden. His campaign has refused to condemn an ad by independent pro-Obama super-political action committee that Republicans complained was a low blow. 

The rhetorical warfare has provoked anger from Romney. He accused Obama of running “a campaign of division and anger and hate” that disgraces the presidency. 

“It is a lot different than Obama ’08,” said Dan Schnur, chairman of the Jesse Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California and a former Republican strategist.

Obama’s willingness to wage a more negative campaign reflects “the difference between being a challenger, and an incumbent in a bad economy,” Schnur said. “You have to get some blood on the other guy.” 

The approach is unified. Obama campaign press secretary Ben LaBolt said Romney’s complaint “seemed unhinged.” Campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the president is facing an opponent who has been making assertions about Obama’s record that are “full of bold-faced lies.” …

It is my belief that Obama wouldn’t recognize the truth if it sat down next to him and gave him a high five. 

2.  Signs of Desperation—Why the Democrats should be worried

"Hey Paul!" yelled an elderly woman while Ryan was placing his order with the cashier. "Good luck! Kick ass!"

The well-wisher, Erma from Howland, Ohio, told me later that she's not worried that Ryan and Romney would end Medicare. "I don't believe it," she said. "Because Obama has a bigger plan to rob Medicare of $617 billion."

"We better worry about Obamacare before we worry about Ryan," added Erma, a self-described conservative. Erma wasn't the only conservative senior citizen at the Original Hot Dog Shoppe to demonstrate that the party faithful have absorbed the Medicare message being pushed by the Romney-Ryan campaign this week.

"Oh, don't believe none of that stuff," Eleanor Costantino, a senior citizen from Warren, told me when I asked her if she was worried about Romney-Ryan taking away Medicare. "It's all nothing but a bunch of lies!"

"He's going to save Medicare," chimed in Eleanor's friend Karen Combs from Cortland, Ohio. "There's $700 billion under Obamacare coming out of Medicare, and seniors should be more frightened over that."

If you are a Democrat that is exactly what you don’t want to hear and it’s even worse since these are seniors in Ohio.  The Democrats should be very afraid. 

3.  Signs of Desperation—Obama reaction to Ryan

…"Both campaigns see the Ryan pick as something that makes Wisconsin more competitive. When we visited this week, every Republican we spoke to suggested it would help keep a Republican base already energized by the recent recall election fired up and hungry for more in November." said CNN Chief National Correspondent John King.

"And we saw the impact on the Obama campaign firsthand. Within hours they rewrote their script for calls to voters to add some sharp criticism of Ryan and his Medicare plan. But the way they did it was telling: A couple of lines about how is a nice guy, sure, but then the segue to the attack and a script that included a line saying President Obama was more in tune with working class voters," added King.
According to the CNN/ORC International Survey, which was conducted entirely after Romney added Ryan to the GOP ticket, 49% of registered voters in Wisconsin say they back President Barack Obama, with 45% supporting Romney. The president's four point advantage over the presumptive Republican presidential nominee is within the survey's sampling error.

Two other polls conducted last week, before the Ryan announcement, indicated the president holding a single digit advantage in a state he won by 14 points in the 2008 presidential election…

Watch over the next month and see more states fall into the toss up category.  The Democrats are starting to have to play defense much sooner than they anticipated. 

4.  The Ryan Plan

The Obama Campaign, having no accomplishments on which to run, has been attacking Paul Ryan’s plan for saving the sinking ship that is Medicare. Hoping to scare seniors by using false information, the Obama Campaign has been spreading lies about Ryan’s plan with the hope that if repeated often enough, it will become fact. While Obama has raided Medicare to fund Obamacare, his catastrophe of a healthcare overhaul, he still insists on spreading lies about Ryan’s plan that allows for more choices for seniors. Here, Paul Ryan discusses and explains his plan and why it’s effective. Take a look.

You’re going to hear a lot about this so you might as well get it from the Ryan’s own mouth.  He’ll be a lot more truthful than the Democrats will be. 

5.  Does the Ryan Plan Cut Medicare?
Republican vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan moved to explain why the federal budget plan he proposed as House Budget Committee chairman included more than $700 billion in cuts to Medicare Thursday, arguing that he was using President Barack Obama's baseline that already included those cuts when crafting the budget.

Since the Medicare cuts were part of Obama's health care law, Republicans included that projected spending in their proposal, Ryan said. He justified it by pointing out that the House later voted to repeal the health care law, which would have stripped out those cuts, and said that Republicans never proposed them.

"First of all, those are in the baseline, he put those cuts in," Ryan said, referring to Obama. "Second of all, we voted to repeal Obamacare repeatedly, including those cuts. I voted that way before the budget, I voted that way after the budget. So when you repeal all of Obamacare what you end up doing is that repeals that as well."

"In our budget we've restored a lot of that," Ryan continued. "It gets a little wonky but it was already in the baseline. We would never have done it in the first place. We voted to repeal the whole bill. I just don't think the president's going to be able to get out of the fact that he took $716 billion from Medicare to pay for Obamacare."

If you cancel Obamacare the money taken from Medicare goes back to Medicare.  It’s pretty simple.  If Obama wants to cancel Obamacare he could claim the same thing. 

6.  How does Obamacare cut Medicare?

 Presumptive GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan should begin his campaign rallies by blasting Eric Clapton's "Before You Accuse Me (Take a Look at Yourself)." This blues tune perfectly reflects the neurosis of President Barack Obama and his troops. They constantly bellow that Mitt Romney and Ryan lust to cut Medicare. Yet, in fact, it is Team Obama that already has chopped deeply into it.
Obama and his comrades echo each other on this point. Republicans are "weakening the safety net," Obama said Monday. "Romney and Paul Ryan are dead set on slashing seniors' Medicare benefits to pay for more millionaire tax breaks," Democratic strategist Kelly Ward wrote donors on Tuesday. "It's a rigged deal," Obama political guru David Axelrod told MSNBC on Thursday. "The Ryan budget, endorsed by Mitt Romney, would end Medicare," screamed

Unfortunately for Democrats, who have sung this song since last year, the truth refuses to harmonize with their vocals. Indeed, crowned the left's "Republicans voted to end Medicare" mendacity as "the 2011 Lie of the Year."

The Washington Post caught Democrats with their hands, arms and shoulders in the Medicare cookie jar.
"Romney is right," read last Tuesday's headline. "Obamacare cuts Medicare by $716 billion." Post reporter Sarah Kliff's extensive evidence explains "all the various Medicare cuts Democrats made to pay for the Affordable Care Act" -- aka Obamacare.

For starters, the Congressional Budget Office director, Douglas W. Elmendorf, wrote House Speaker John Boehner on July 24. Elmendorf determined that if Congress repealed Obamacare, "spending for Medicare would increase by an estimated $716 billion over that 2013-2022 period." Conversely, if Obamacare remains law, so will Obama's $716 billion in Medicare cuts.

The Washington Post conveniently itemizes Obama's 10-year decreases in Medicare:

-- The lion's share, some 34.8 percent or $249.2 billion, involves "reductions in how much Medicare reimburses hospitals and private health insurance companies," as Kliff observes. Team Obama lamely argues that these are not Medicare-benefit cuts. Nice try. This is like saying that Washington is not reducing student aid, just limiting tuition payments to colleges and university systems. 

-- Another 30.2 percent of Obama's Medicare reductions, or about $216.2 billion, is gouged out of Medicare Advantage. This highly popular program lets seniors choose among private insurers. But, since Obama knows best, this market-friendlier approach gets catapulted off a cliff.

"These cuts will force seniors to pay $3,700 more for their health care by 2017," according to the Ethics and Public Policy Center's James C. Capretta. "The Medicare trustees project that the cuts will drive some 4 million seniors out of Medicare Advantage plans between 2012 and 2018."…

The reductions in reimbursement to medical providers is cost controls that will result in fewer doctors, hospitals, etc. willing to take Medicare patients.  Right now this reimbursement is on the edge with some doctors and hospitals being unwilling to treat Medicare patients.  This will explode that number and is a very real threat to senior’s health.  Grandma doesn’t get a knee replacement so Suzie can get free birth control. 

7.  Why Obama is losing the Medicare battle

…Anyone who thought that the selection of Paul Ryan would force the president and his team to abandon purely negative campaigning had better think again. The presence of Ryan on the ticket has merely changed the target of Obama’s negative campaign from Mitt Romney’s performance at Bain Capital to Paul Ryan’s plans to make sense of our fiscal condition and preserve Medicare, unchanged for those 55 years old and over, reformed for other Americans. The Obama campaign remains stuck on negative, claiming that Ryan would destroy Medicare and Medicaid “as we know them.” How Obama would preserve these programs “as we know them” remains a deeper secret than his well-publicized cyberattacks on Iran. The simple fact is that existing entitlements, gobbling ever-larger portions of our GDP, cannot survive “as we know them.”

I am reminded of a wonderful scene in an Elaine May movie (A New Leaf) in which Walter Matthau’s attorney is trying to explain to him that he has squandered his entire huge inheritance. To which an uncomprehending Matthau, waving a check that has bounced, replies that his check must be honored, a position he maintains despite his lawyer’s repeated explanation that, having spent more than the income from his inheritance for many years, he has no more capital: “You don’t have any money.”

President Obama certainly cuts a more elegant figure than the late, rumpled Walter Matthau, but he, too, has no money to back his spending plans. Which is why the Democrats are sticking to their negative campaign rather than saying just how they propose to save these entitlements as we know them. Matthau solved his problem by marrying an extraordinarily wealthy heiress; Obama has solved his problem—our problem—by borrowing almost 40 cents to cover every dollar he spends. That can’t go on, and won’t be solved by soaking the rich: Squeeze them dry and he won’t affect the rounding error in his deficits...

Medicare has become a great issue for Romney/Ryan and a toxic one for Obama/Biden.  This isn’t the way the Democrats saw it going.  But after hearing for the last 20 years the programs were going broke, the Democrats negative ads seem out of touch with reality.  The seniors today are smarter than what the Democrats want to give them credit for. 

8.  The Biden Factor

You know it’s bad when Sarah Palin says you’re not fit to be vice president.

Palin’s gaffe-prone journey on the 2008 GOP ticket could be a walk in the park compared to what Vice President Joe Biden and the Obama campaign are facing this fall.

Biden’s blunders four years ago, such as imploring a man in a wheelchair to “stand up,” were embarrassing but never really hurt Obama.

But with one horrific reference to slavery, that has all changed now, and the president — not Mitt Romney — is the one with the running-mate problem.

Getting attention is never good for a vice presidential candidate. They’re supposed to be boring. In 1988, Michael Dukakis’ running mate, U.S. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, ran what his aides called the “champagne campaign” because he was done by cocktail hour.

But the party is over for Joe. Barring a complete meltdown, Biden is not going to be replaced with Hillary Clinton. So let’s take a look at what could happen in the coming weeks, assuming the media will not just let “Joe be Joe” and ignore him.

Obama’s handlers will try to clamp down on Biden and make sure he sticks to the script, just like his boss. That would be a mistake. Obama needs a real guy on the ticket, not a teleprompter reader.

“Joe Biden’s appeal is based on his genuineness,” said Boston public relations guru Larry Rasky, a close friend of the vice president. “Any staff person who tries to tell Joe Biden what to do ought to re-examine how they do their job.”…

Biden is not a major problem but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a problem.  His gaffes will make news and throughout the campaign he will be compared with Paul Ryan.  He was beaten pretty badly in the VP debate by Sarah Palin and he most likely will be eviscerated by Paul Ryan on October 11.  He will become part of a feeling, a feeling that Obama is not going to win.  

9.  Can Obama adapt to a new race?

Democrats say that President Obama's unconventional strategy for the 2012 election hasn't yet begun the crucial phase: the pivot to positivism.

Obama's theory of the 2012 election was to do what other incumbents have feared to attempt and open the campaign on a sustained negative note. The idea was to destroy Romney's public image and then, with the Republican nominee in tatters, set about the business of restoring some sheen to the president's somewhat tarnished brand.

This is sort of the same thing that Obama did in the White House. Obama came in swinging hard and spent most of his first two years pushing an unpopular new health-insurance entitlement. Then he undertook a "hard pivot" to focus on the economy.

The health law, though, consumed more time and more political capital than Democrats had expected. Even with supermajorities in both houses of Congress, the health law proved to be overwhelming.  

The result was a scorching defeat for Democrats in 2010. Even before the midterms were done, though, Team Obama was promising a renewed focus on economic and employment issues….

…Then began Obama's spring offensive in which he and his team went on a scorched-earth campaign against by-then presumptive Republican nominee Romney. They had been expecting to face Romney all along, but the speed and thoroughness with which Romney captured his party's nomination was surprising.
So Obama rolled out the next phase of his campaign strategy: character attacks on Romney. Even the gentlest political scribes were amazed at how mean Obama was and how early. But many believed that the attacks would work, and nothing succeeds with reporters like success.

And after four months of the negative barrage against Romney, it looked like it was finally paying off. Whatever damage the president had done to his own brand as a healer and uniter, was being more than offset by Romney's crumbling favorability ratings and Romney seemed to be exhausted.

And just at the moment, Romney pulled the Ryan ripcord and changed the trajectory of the race.
A look at the swing state polls starting to trickle in shows that Romney has at worst stopped his deterioration and at best started outpacing the president. Ryan's choice not only enthused the GOP base, but seemingly convinced some independent voters fed up with the status quo that the moderate former governor of Massachusetts was about some big ideas.

Romney has halved Obama's lead in Franklin & Marshall's Pennsylvania poll and is either leading or statistically tied in a slew of other battleground polls. Something good is happening for Romney and it seems directly attributable to Ryan.

But the immutable fact is that Obama did not ruin Romney before the current change took place. The hope with the sustained barrage by Obama was that by this point, the president would have enough of a cushion to switch to a positive closing argument. But here we are in a deadlocked contest and Romney is still kicking.

The three phases of the Obama strategy -- attack, pivot to positivism and then go like hell to get out the vote - are still enact, but the schedule is looking a little iffy…

…And there's this: Having been so negative for so long, Obama's campaign may have poisoned the political atmosphere to the point that the press gives Romney broad latitude in his attacks and voters close their ears to any subsequent entreaties from Obama to see him again as a man who can heal a broken political system.

An interesting parallel for the president: It was the success of Republicans in 2010 that stymied his "hard pivot" to jobs. And it is the apparent success of one House Republican, Ryan, as Romney's running mate that may jeopardize Obama's pivot to positivism.

This is an interesting look at the Obama campaign and what’s happened so far.  The Medicare issue seems to be not only a dud for the Democrats, but a winner for the Republicans.

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