Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, whose plans for Medicare are under attack by President Obama and other Democrats, will promise an honest conversation on entitlements in a speech at an AARP conference on Friday in New Orleans, just after Obama addresses the group by satellite.
"You’re right to worry that years of empty promises by both political parties are threatening the security of your golden years. And you’re right to demand honest answers from those asking for your vote. Mitt Romney and I share your concerns,” Ryan will tell the group, according to excerpts of his speech. “And we respect you enough to level with you. We respect all the people of this country enough to talk about the clear choices we face on Medicare, Social Security, the economy, and the kind of country our children will inherit."
A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll this week found the public prefers Obama’s approach to Medicare over Romney’s, 47 percent to 37 percent. Ryan will try to cast doubt on the administration’s handling of Medicare, according to the speech excerpts. He used a similar strategy during his first speech of the campaign on Medicare, a rally in front of several thousand seniors in one of Florida’s largest retirement communities, The Villages.
To underscore the emotional appeal of his argument, he will be accompanied at AARP by his 78-year-old mother, Betty Douglas, who also appeared with him at The Villages.
The congressman’s address will revolve around the charge -- rated “mostly false” by Politifact -- that the president cut $716 billion from the Medicare program to help pay for the Affordable Care Act. Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, included the same cuts in his own budget proposal, but he now accepts Romney’s plan to repeal them.
“They want to take responsibility for these cuts out of the hands of your elected representatives and give it to unelected bureaucrats. They want to let them make the decisions -- and let them take the heat,” Ryan will say about the cuts, referring to the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a panel of experts tasked with recommending to Congress ways to slow the cost growth of Medicare. He will cite the Medicare Chief Actuary as saying that the cuts, which will reduce payments to providers in order to save costs, will “jeopardize access to care for beneficiaries,” according to the speech excerpts.
Ryan will tell the audience that the plan he and Romney are offering, which involves giving seniors a set amount of money (Democrats call it a voucher) to purchase private coverage or traditional Medicare, will “empower future seniors” and force the market to compete for their business.
“This financial support system is designed to guarantee that seniors can always afford Medicare coverage -- no exceptions. And if a senior wants to choose the traditional Medicare plan, then she will have that right,” he will say. Ryan’s plan makes no changes to the program for Americans 55 and older.
The Obama campaign on Thursday released a Medicare-focused TV ad scheduled to start running Friday in Colorado, Florida, and Iowa. The ad warns seniors that their premiums could go up as much as $6,400 a year under the Romney-Ryan plan. Politifact deemed the claim only partially truthful because the figure was based on an analysis of Ryan’s 2011 plan. His current plan, which has not been analyzed, includes adjustments meant to avert or lessen such out-of-pocket costs.