Obama Links Ryan To Congressional Inaction
While mention of Paul Ryan's name drew a warm response from the crowd, Ryan's budget and its proposed cuts to Medicare might prove to be a liability for Romney in the Sunshine State, where large portions of the senior citizen community rely on the program. Romney won the state's primary election and Florida's 29 electoral votes are crucial for him to cinch the election.
Romney assured the crowd that he and Ryan "want to make sure that we preserve and protect Medicare." He was quick to deflect the attention on his competition, telling the crowd President Obama wants to cut the program by $700 billion.
But it might not be that easy to make voters less suspicious of Ryan's intentions towards Medicare. Ryan's budget proposed converting Medicare's fixed benefit program into a voucher system which would provide participants with a fixed amount of money with which to buy private insurance and which would be unlikely to keep pace with rising healthcare costs.
In March, a United Technologies/National Journal poll found that respondents prefer Medicare as currently constituted over Ryan’s plan by a 64 percent to 26 percent margin.
Ryan seeks to mitigate this disadvantage by preserving the current Medicare system for anyone 55 or older. But any threat at all to Medicare—particularly one that is hyped by hundreds of millions of dollars in ads from an opposing presidential campaign—stands to be a major political liability. In a state like Florida, filled with seniors, it could be a decisive one.
The Obama campaign has tried to capitalize on the unpopularity of Ryan's budget proposals.
"It says something about Mitt Romney that he chose someone who has a budget that really, it would be the end of Medicare as we know it," Obama's deputy camapign manager Stephanie Cutter said. "It would increase costs on seniors and throw them into the private market."
Obama himself, meanwhile, has been characterizing the vice-presidential candidate as the "ideological leader of Republicans in Congress" in an effort to associate Ryan with the unpopularity and inaction of Congress, according to the Los Angeles Times. Appearing in the drought-stricken farm state of Iowa, Obama accused Ryan and the GOP of standing in the way of providing desperately needed assistance to farmers and ranchers.
“If you happen to see Congressman Ryan, tell him how important this farm bill is to Iowa and our rural communities,” Obama said. “It’s time to put politics aside and pass it right away.”
Romney has another appearance scheduled in Miami Monday night. The GOP convention will be held in Tampa in two weeks.
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