Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan defended the Romney campaign’s plan to reform Medicare and charged in an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV Saturday that President Obama is turning the entitlement into a “piggybank” to pay for his unpopular healthcare program.
“President Obama is turning Medicare into a piggybank to pay for Obamacare,” Ryan said. “We propose to get rid of that because we propose to repeal Obamacare.”
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In a wide-ranging interview, Ryan also said:
- He and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney favor increased competition for healthcare providers to “strengthen and save” Medicare.
- President Obama is running a campaign of “division” and “distortion” to distract the American people” from the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression.
- A Romney administration would approach Congress with a broad framework for tax reform after the election rather than listing specific loopholes that must be closed.
- Foreign policy under the Obama administration is “pulling apart at the seams” and continued U.S. foreign aid to Egypt should be tied to a continuation of the Camp David Accords.
The Wisconsin congressman, who chairs the powerful House Budget Committee, dismissed the Democratic line that seniors would pay as much as $6,000 more in out-of-pocket expenses under the Romney/Ryan Medicare plan.
“First of all that statistic was not only kind of misleading then. It’s completely inaccurate now. This is what politicians do when they don’t want to talk about their record,” he charged, noting that the Republican plan is not unlike the plan proposed by the Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare under President Bill Clinton.
He said that Obama will take $716 billion away from Medicare to pay for Obamacare and “in Obamacare, President Obama will vow to appoint 15 unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats, who are in charge of cutting Medicare every year in ways that will lead to denied care for current seniors.”
In contrast, the Romney/Ryan plan would “strengthen” and “save” the system without affecting anyone who has already retired or are close to retirement.
“The best way to save Medicare, to strengthen it — to keep the promise to my mom’s generation, to people about to retire — is reform for my generation because Medicare is going bankrupt,” he asserted, adding that anyone 54 and under would receive a list of “guaranteed coverage options — including traditional Medicare” — when they retire under the Romney/Ryan plan.
“We want providers competing against each other for our business as individuals. We don’t want 15 bureaucrats telling us what we can get,” Ryan explained, saying that such an approach enjoys “bipartisan support” in Congress.
“We think the power of 50 million seniors choosing the plan that best meets their needs is a whole lot better than President Obama’s plan of having 15 bureaucrats make the decisions,” he said.
Acknowledging that President Obama has pulled ahead in most of the swing states, Ryan expressed confidence that “I don’t think at the end of the day he will of course. Because I think he is running the kind of campaign to try and tear down his opponent.”
Ryan accused Obama of distracting American voters from the “worst recovery” since the Great Depression, with 15 percent of Americans living in poverty, 23 million Americans struggling for work, and an unemployment rate hovering above 8 percent for 43 months.
“He’s going to run a campaign of division, of distortion to distract the American people. And he’s been pretty successful at running distractions to try and get people off the wall of looking at how bad this economy is,” according to Ryan, who believes that Republicans must campaign on more than a referendum on Obama’s failed presidency to be successful.
“We think President Obama is taking us toward more of a European kind of a system,” he said. “So the choice we’re bringing to the country is do you want the American idea and opportunity society with a safety net, economic growth, upward mobility — or do you want the path president Obama has us on — a welfare state with a debt crisis?”
While the Romney/Ryan plan would reduce tax rates and seek to pay for those cuts by ridding the system of unspecified loopholes and deductions, Ryan said that the specific cuts would be determined by Congress.
“Our plan sets lower tax rates across the board by 20 percent for everybody,” he declared.
A Romney administration would ask lawmakers to choose which of the 200 or so loopholes, costing taxpayers $1 trillion a year, should be removed to pay for the cuts.
“Don’t go to Congress and say ‘here’s my plan, take it or leave it all or not.’ You say ‘here’s my framework. Here’s what I want to achieve — 20 percent across the board rate cuts, that’s revenue neutral — and let’s figure out how to put this together,’” Ryan explained. “We don’t want to have a deal like Obamacare.”
He also dismissed critics, who contend that such a plan will not work without a tax increase on middle income Americans.
“This is just not true,” he said, describing a fundamental difference in the Republican and Democratic philosophies. “We want people to keep this money in their businesses, in their families, in their pockets, and their paychecks, first,” he said.
Ryan also favors tying continued foreign aid to Egypt to the Camp David Accords, which some experts believe are threatened by the newly elected Muslim Brotherhood government of Mohammed Morsi.
“The treaty with Israel is obviously an important condition of our aide. Our aide is never a blank check,” he insisted. “But look at what’s happening. Let’s pull the lens back a little bit. They’re burning our flags in all of these capitols” across the Middle East.
Ryan blames President Obama’s foreign policy for the anti-American demonstrations that erupted across the troubled region.
The president’s foreign policy, he said, “is pulling apart at the seams” and is fueled by a weakened national defense brought on by planned cuts to the military.
“President Obama’s foreign policy projects weakness and when weakness is projected by America, that gives our adversaries more of an incentive to test us and our allies less of an incentive to trust us,” he said.
“We believe in strong national defense. We believe in speaking singularly with a strong voice in favor of American values that projects strength — having a strong national defense, having a strong America — that makes us safer and more prosperous.”
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