President Barack Obama “robbed” Medicare to pay for the health-care legislation he pushed through Congress in 2010, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney says in an interview to be broadcast tonight.
Romney made the claim when asked on the CBS program “60 Minutes” about the political risk of picking Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate. Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, has led efforts to revamp Medicare, the government health-insurance program for the elderly.
“There’s only one president that I know of in history that robbed Medicare, $716 billion to pay for a new risky program of his own that we call Obamacare,” Romney responds, according to excerpts of the interview released by CBS..
The interview is the first joint one by the newly formed Republican ticket since Romney announced Ryan as his running-mate pick yesterday in Virginia.
“What Paul Ryan and I have talked about is saving Medicare, is providing people greater choice in Medicare, making sure it’s there for current seniors,” Romney says on “60 Minutes.” “No changes, by the way, for current seniors, or those nearing retirement. But looking for young people down the road and saying, ‘We’re going to give you a bigger choice.’ In America, the nature of this country has been giving people more freedom, more choices.”
Stephanie Cutter, Obama’s deputy campaign manager, said on the CBS program “Face the Nation” earlier today that the president has done nothing to harm Medicare.
“You know I heard Mitt Romney deride the $700 billion cuts in Medicare that the president achieved through health-care reform,” she said. “You know what those cuts are? It’s taking subsidies away from insurance companies. Taking rebates away from prescription drug companies. Is that what Mitt Romney wants to protect?”
Ryan has proposed replacing Medicare with a plan giving seniors a fixed amount of money to buy private coverage. The theory is that competition among health insurers for their business will bring down spiraling costs. Since his initial proposal, he has softened the plan to offer the elderly a choice between the traditional Medicare and the fixed subsidies.
“My mom is a Medicare senior in Florida,” Ryan says in the CBS interview. “Our point is we need to preserve their benefits, because government made promises to them that they’ve organized their retirements around. In order to make sure we can do that, you must reform it for those of us who are younger. And we think these reforms are good reforms.”
Romney is scheduled to campaign tomorrow in the battleground and retiree-heavy state of Florida. Ryan, after joining Romney this weekend on bus tours in Virginia and North Carolina and at a rally tonight in Wisconsin, will campaign in Iowa.