Rich Lowry: Democrats Will Go ‘Thermonuclear’ on Medicare Attacks

Thursday, 16 Aug 2012 06:22 PM

By Paul Scicchitano

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With the presidential race coming down to the homestretch, conservative columnist and best-selling author Rich Lowry tells Newsmax.TV that the Obama campaign is likely to go “thermonuclear” with its attacks on Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan.

“The president the other day . . . said Paul Ryan would end Medicare as we know it,” snapped Lowry in an exclusive interview on Thursday. “Maybe there’s technical defense of that, but then (he) went on to say (that the plan) would end the guarantee of Medicare benefits, which is completely false. It’s outrageous that every single media fact-checker in the world isn’t jumping all over that.”

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Lowry, the editor of National Review, also believes that Mitt Romney should not attempt to distance himself from Paul Ryan’s budget plan, which has energized the party’s conservative base while fueling such vitriolic attacks by Democrats.

Urgent: Does Paul Ryan Really Help Defeat Obama? Vote in Exclusive Poll

“He should just be very clear what his version of these ideas is. And this is the way it always works when you put someone on your ticket. It’s never the number two who dictates everything,” said Lowry, a Newsmax contributor, whose book on Bill Clinton, “Legacy,” was a New York Times best-seller.

“Democrats are going to go thermonuclear with little regard for the actual facts and the truth,” he predicted. “And I believe the best the Romney campaign can do here is play it to a draw. But I think they can play it to a draw — and if they do — that’s a big benefit to them because Democrats are banking a lot on destroying the Romney-Ryan ticket based on this issue.”

Despite attempts by the Obama campaign to distort the GOP position on Medicare, the Republicans appear be holding their own thus far.

“They have to be on offense. They went up with this ad just the other day hitting Obama for cutting $700 billion out of Medicare and using it to fund Obamacare,” according to Lowry, who is also co-author of the spy thriller “Banquo’s Ghosts,” and serves as a Fox News political analyst. “That’s the kind of thing that they have to do. They just have to punch back twice as hard.”

Lowry, a frequent guest commentator on “The McLaughlin Group,” and PBS’ “NewsHour,” said that Ryan adds a “fresh, young, new element to the ticket,” which may explain why one recent poll finds that Romney has the support of more than 40 percent of America’s youth vote.

“The message that Romney and Ryan are carrying forward on entitlements should be one that resonates with younger voters because most of them just don’t believe that these entitlements are going to exist for them in anything like their current form when they’re old enough to retire,” Lowry explained.

“No one wants to change Medicare. But if you ask, ‘Are you open to changing it for people 55 and under?” then you get a much more favorable poll result,” he said. “There are two things that people need to know about Medicare from the perspective of a Romney-Ryan ticket — one, Obama cuts $700 billion and, two, none of these reforms are going to take effect on anyone over the age of 55.”

He said there’s no reason anyone would pay more to get the Medicare benefits they are currently receiving under Ryan’s plan.

“What it basically says is we’re going to have a private insurance company and traditional Medicare competing to provide guaranteed current Medicare benefits that seniors get at the best price,” he explained. “And whatever the second lowest bid — second most affordable bid — the premium support from the government is set at that level.”

Once the media interest in Ryan settles down, Lowry believes that the campaign will likely become a referendum on the economy.

“It’s going to be a clash of visions about the economy,” he asserted. “It’s going to go back to being a clash between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama about how to get the economy really moving again and what’s the proper size and role of the federal government. And Medicare will be an argument going all the way through to November, but it won’t be the prime argument.”

He dismissed attempts by President Obama and other Democrats to downplay Vice President Joe Biden’s recent comments that Republicans would put voters “back in chains” and he insisted that they were indeed racially charged.

“It was absolutely clear what those remarks meant,” he said. “If you read them, it’s clear what they meant. Two, if you listen to it, it’s actually absolutely clear the impression he was trying to create because he puts on a mock African-American voice.”

Lowry called Biden’s remarks the “worst sort of race bating politics where he’s suggesting that somehow, because Republicans don’t like Dodd-Frank, their program is going to mean re-enslaving black voters. And this is the kind of politics Democrats always play when they want to gin up this key constituency for them,” added Lowry. “This is just more blatant than usual.”

He wasn’t surprised by the Pennsylvania court decision upholding The Keystone State’s voter I.D. law either.

“There’s a Supreme Court decision that looked at this several years ago and it was 6-3 decision,” he explained, noting the similarities between the defense of Biden’s comments and Democrat’s logic in opposing voter I.D. laws, which have now been approved by 11 states.

Urgent: Does Paul Ryan Really Help Defeat Obama? Vote in Exclusive Poll

“It was an Indiana voter ID law that the Supreme Court upheld and said it didn’t infringe on people’s voting rights at all,” he recalled. “This is the same kind of argument from the Democrats that is getting at the same political effect as that Biden remark about putting people back in chains. It’s based on scaring people and energizing Democratic constituencies, rather than anything on their merits.”

There’s little question that Romney’s selection of Ryan has played well with Lowry’s conservative readership, but it may be too soon to tell whether the three- to four-point bump Romney got in the polls will last.

“It speaks to a certain boldness and creativity on the part of Mitt Romney that shatters the stereotype of him,” Lowry said. “This really speaks to a real belief in conservative reforms and a real commitment to passing them. So it’s played well so far, and I hope will continue to.”

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