Spieckerman Speaks

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Medicare: The Romney/Ryan Checkmate

Driven by hubris, unwittingly abetted by the elite media, Obama and the Democrats have just ensnared themselves in one of the most artfully laid traps in the history of Presidential politics.

Desperate to distract voters from an inexcusably atrocious economic record, Obama & Co. was ecstatic when Mitt Romney named Paul Ryan as his running mate.  Ryan’s plan to fix Medicare, they gleefully gloated, would cause senior citizens to flock to the President, hand Florida to Obama and calcify their carefully-crafted ObaMyth:  Mitt Romney, The Cold-Blooded Cipher.

Instead, Romney’s selection of Ryan has defined the soon-to-be Republican standard-bearer as a serious man for serious times, completely secure with himself, brilliant at divining talent and blessed with unexpectedly exquisite political instincts.

And Team Romney couldn’t have asked for a better predicate to the Ryan roll-out than Obama’s sordid and specious “Death by Bain” TV ad.   Just as even respected Democrats and liberal media pundits were expressing shock and indignation at this new low in Chicago-style politics-by-character assassination, Romney enlisted a real-life “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”

Paul Ryan is exactly the kind of candidate dispirited and disgusted voters have been pining for – but thought didn’t exist.

Worst of all for Democrats – and contrary to conventional wisdom – having Ryan on the ticket will completely neutralize what was sure to be Obama’s next line of attack, irrespective of Romney’s VP:  MediScare.

Then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was right in 2009 when she said, “We’ll have to pass the bill to see what’s in it.”  In fact, until a few days ago, the vast majority of senior citizens still didn’t comprehend that over $700 billion will be sucked out of Medicare to offset Obamacare.  Or that future Medicare costs will be controlled by IPAB – an unelected Star Chamber vested with the power to deny medical procedures to seniors, regardless of the doctor’s or patient’s wishes.

Older Americans were already repelled by Obamacare - even more than their younger cohorts.  Many saw its mandates and micromanagement as un-American, its costs frightening in an era of exploding deficits and its authors alien to their beliefs.

Yet most of these seniors never dreamed that Obamacare would financially gut and ration their Medicare.  Now, with Romney’s selection of Ryan, and the attendant saturation media coverage of the Medicare issue, "the word is out."

On last Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” former Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean actually said, “Seniors will never believe that Democrats cut Medicare.”  And, under normal circumstances, he’s probably right.  But what Dean and other Democrat operatives have failed to fully account for is the extent to which anything associated with Obama and Obamacare is toxic to senior citizens.

Add the fact that objective news outlet Fox News Channel’s dominance in the cable news realm is particularly pronounced among seniors. 

Clearly, the politically astute Romney understands this.  And, as a disciple of data, he can read the numbers. 

Even in the latest CNN/ORC poll – which dubiously showed Obama to be leading Romney among all voters by seven points – Romney routed the President among senior citizens by a whopping 14-point margin, making voters 65 and older Romney’s strongest demographic by far.

So Romney knew he started with a significant margin of safety among older voters.  And, after spending many days campaigning side-by-side and commiserating with Ryan, he came to believe that, with this refulgent man of rectitude on his team, he could surmount Obama’s scary rhetoric with straight talk.

Ryan can help make the point that his Medicare plan wouldn’t have impacted anyone over age 55 when enacted; that liberal and longtime senior citizen advocate Democratic Senator Ron Wyden signed-on to the plan; that the Ryan/Wyden proposal capped future Medicare spending at exactly the same levels as does Obama’s budget.

Unlike Obama’s budget, however, Ryan's plan didn't allow Medicare to become insolvent in 12 years.  It didn’t ration care and unrealistically cut payments to health care providers – further reducing the number of providers accepting Medicare.  Instead, the Ryan plan relied on competition and individual choice to keep health care quality high and health care costs in check.

Romney and Ryan have repeatedly emphasized that the plan to save Medicare Ryan crafted in Congress isn’t the final iteration.  Team Romney will further hone it in coming weeks.

Now that seniors are finally learning the truth, Romney/Ryan is not only a nightmare for Obama and his comrades – but for all Democrats who’ve been fleeing from the odious Obamacare and were counting on having MediScare as a weapon in their campaign arsenal.

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