Both President Obama and GOP Mitt Romney's vice-presidential running mate, Paul Ryan, made their case to the public Saturday on Medicare. Paul Ryan spoke at a Florida rally with his mom, who is on Medicare, with him to personalize the issue of Medicare reform. Ryan made a strong case for saving Medicare versus "raiding" it.
Speaking to supporters, Ryan was cheered as he pointed out that Medicare wasn't merely a program to him. He said, "It's not just a bunch of numbers; it's what my mom relies on, it's what my grandma had." He went on to again accuse President Obama of slashing Medicare by cutting $716 billion to pay for the healthcare overhaul law that is the president's signature achievement while in office.
Over in Windham, New Hampshire, President Obama claimed, "Their plan would put Medicare on track to be ended as we know it." However, Paul's answer was to say if anyone had changed Medicare "as we know it," it was the president. In an easy-going manner, Paul went on to point out that it was Obama, not he nor Romney, who had altered Medicare in a scary way.
Though Paul stopped short of calling it a "Death Squad," Ryan did point out that Obama had appointed a panel of fifteen men who were unaccountable for any oversight, charged with making decisions about what care Medicare would pay for in the future for seniors. This would lead to rationing and denial of needed healthcare, coming between a patient and their doctor, claimed Ryan.
With nearly 50 million elderly and disabled Americans and a growing number of baby boomers reaching retirement age, Medicare is a major concern and a riveting, divisive campaign issue. Earlier this week, a Kaiser Family Foundation poll noted that concerns about the future of Medicare top the list of issues for election 2012.
It remains to be seen whether Romney and Ryan can overcome increasingly negative ads about their stance on Medicare, but it appears the team is anxious to have what Paul calls, "an important debate." That's because they believe that they can win. Paul has the ability, comparable to Sarah Palin, to rally supporters. Will we soon hear Paul, a Tea Party favorite, lead a chant to "throw Obama off the cliff"?