It Was Supposed To Be About The Economy, Stupid

Has the Romney campaign foolishly abandoned its best argument against the President?

NBC’s First Read returns to a theme that many pundits, myself included, have touched upon in the days since Paul Ryan was named to the Republican ticket, the fact that the Romney campaign has quite apparently abandoned the idea of a campaign focused largely, if not exclusively, on the economy and President Obama’s handling of the same and shifted the focus to an issue that the GOP on which is decidedly at a disadvantage:

There was always a definite upside to Mitt Romney picking Ryan Paul as his running mate: You make the presidential contest about a big clash of ideas; Romney’s campaign is now about something. But there also was an obvious downside for Romney: You turn the race into a conversation about Medicare, entitlements and the role of government, relegating a discussion about the economy to the back seat — at least for the time being. Yes, Romney talked about the economy yesterday in Florida. And yes, Ryan talked about it in Iowa, too. But what was yesterday’s dominant political story? Medicare. What’s the subject of the Romney campaign’s heavily played TV ad? Welfare (which is a role-of-government issue). What’s the subject matter of its latest TV ad? Criticizing the Obama campaign over that pro-Obama Super PAC advertisement. And what does today’s official news that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will be delivering the keynote at the GOP convention suggest? We’re coming after government. (After all, New Jersey’s unemployment rate stands at 9.6%, well above the national average.) For now, the issue of the economy is no longer driving this presidential contest. And you have to ask yourself: Which campaign benefits the most from that?

I think that answer to that question is rather obvious. For months now, the Obama campaign has engaged in a rather obvious strategy of trying to define the campaign as being something other than the economy and the poor recovery we’ve been been experiencing that keeps threatening to slip back into recession. Instead, they’ve been talking about issues like income inequality by emphasizing Mitt Romney’s immense wealth and the fact that, completely legally, he paid a lower tax rate in 2010 than many other Americans have (although he did, of course, pay far more in taxes). They’ve been talking about Romney’s experiences at Bain to the point of trying to hold him responsible for events that he likely didn’t have very much control over, and events that occurred after he’d left day-to-day management of the company. One of the campaign’s SuperPAC supporters has even gone so far as to try to absurdly hold Romney responsible for the death of a woman from cancer.

Thanks largely to the fact that the Romney campaign was incredibly passive in the face of this months long barrage from their opponents, those efforts were showing some signs of success in that Romney’s favorable/unfavorable numbers have gotten more and more negative, to the point where he has the lowest favorablility rating of any Presidential nominee going back to 1988. Through all of that, though, they still had the economy to continue to hit the President on, and the monthly barrage of, at best, lukewarm economic statistics have no doubt caused considerable agitation in the White House and in Chicago. Indeed, while recent polling has seen some impact from the negative attacks on Romney, the race remains relatively close on the national level due, in large part no doubt, to the state of the nation and continued voter frustration with the way President Obama has handled his job with respect to the economy. 

As I noted on Sunday, it strikes me that Romney’s campaign will be making a serious error if they allow this election to be about anything other than the economy. If it’s about Medicare, for example, then the campaign runs about against the fact hat the public is not in favor of entitlement cuts in general, and that a majority of Americans have said that they oppose the Ryan Plan, and that they believed it would make them worse off. More importantly, there’s little evidence that the voters want the kind of “Big Picture” election that the talking heads now seem to be salivating over. They want to hear about the economy, and jobs, and how they’re going to be able to leave behind a better life for their children. They may not have been perfect at it, but at least when the Romney campaign was talking about the economy to the virtual exclusion of everything else, they were speaking to that desire. Now, they seem in danger of walking off into territory where they are at a decided disadvantage. That’s got to have them smiling in the White House right about now.

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Campaign 2012, Economics and Business, Politicians, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. anjin-san says:

    “I think it’s a very bold choice. And an exciting and interesting pick. It’s going to elevate the campaign into a debate over big ideas. It means Romney-Ryan can run on principles and provide some real direction and vision for the Republican Party. And probably lose. Maybe big.”

    — Former Bush adviser Mark McKinnon, quoted by Politico, on Mitt Romney’s choice of Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate.

  2. grumpy realist says:

    Except that just talking about the economy isn’t going to do you any good, if your only answer is Tax Cuts! Tax Cuts! Tax Cuts!

  3. Modulo Myself says:

    Instead, they’ve been talking about issues like income inequality by emphasizing Mitt Romney’s immense wealth and the fact that, completely legally, he paid a lower tax rate in 2010 than many other Americans have (although he did, of course, pay far more in taxes). They’ve been talking about Romney’s experiences at Bain to the point of trying to hold him responsible for events that he likely didn’t have very much control over, and events that occurred after he’d left day-to-day management of the company. One of the campaign’s SuperPAC supporters has even gone so far as to try to absurdly hold Romney responsible for the death of a woman from cancer.

    What Obama understands (though he is hardly going out of his way to address directly) is that for almost every American–and I’m thinking that this includes a lot of wealthy people–income inequality and the failures of deregulation and globalization ARE behind economic failure.

    I’m not sure why conservatives find this hard to grasp, but believe me, Obama and his advisers are thanking you people daily for being so obtuse.

  4. Jeremy R says:

    One of the campaign’s SuperPAC supporters has even gone so far as to try to absurdly hold Romney responsible for the death of a woman from cancer.

    I can’t for the life of me understand the endless obsession with this SuperPAC ad that hasn’t actually aired anywhere, when that third party offering is positively tame by comparassion to the stunningly false, character assassination present in the Romney camp’s first party advertising, Romney’s stump and in surrogate talking points:

    Dog-whistle ads accusing the president of repealing the welfare work requirement (“Under Obama’s plan, you wouldn’t have to work or wouldn’t have to train for a job, they would just send you your welfare check”); accusing the commander-in-chief of conspiring to prevent military servicemen from being able to vote; ads accusing the president of engaging in a “War on Religion”; stunningly misleading claims that the president “stole from” “robbed” “raided ” the Medicare trust fund and that he has “blood on his hands.”

    Hell, Romney’s very entry into the race (see his book and announcement speech) was premised on that Right Wing invention that Obama’s character is lacking in fundamental patriotism, that he doesn’t believe in “American Exceptionalism” and that consequently he “goes around the world apologizing for America.”

  5. C. Clavin says:

    In a word…yes.
    But he abandoned it for a very simple reason…it wasn’t working.
    Outside of rabid partisans like Jan and Indiana Jones most people realize Obama inherited a shit-storm and they are not blaming him entirely…rightly so. They also clearly hold Congress responsible in part…judging by the record low approval ratings. (reminder – Ryan is a leader of the Republican Congressional Caucus).
    My guess…Romney looked at the Electoral Vote situation…realized he had almost no chance at winning…and picked Ryan because A). it may rile the base enough to eke out a narrow win given the voter supression efforts…and B). if he does lose he can pawn some blame off on the Party Apparatus who wanted Ryan.

  6. michael reynolds says:

    It was never going to just be about the economy, it was always going to end up being personality-driven at least to a significant degree.

    I have been saying from the start that Romney’s inability to appear human was going to hurt him. It’s not that it will show up directly in polls. It’s rather that when you don’t like someone you don’t listen to them. You don’t credit them with having anything valuable to say. You tune them out.

    But Mr. Romney doesn’t get this. Everywhere he goes, the more people see, the less they like. And he has not come to grips with this dominant fact of his campaign.

    Against that there’s the obsessive hatred of Obama in about 45% of the population. That’s been Romney’s asset. But he has a hard time exploiting it when he appears to be just a rich douche who wants more for himself and less for everyone else.

  7. Mr. Prosser says:

    Not only the failures of deregulation and income inequality but the obvious obstruction in Congress and incredibly obtuse views on the job saving auto bail-outs and the constant hammering on “sacrifice” for the future good. It’s all about the economy and the obstruction of the recovery. Make no mistake, focusing on the economy with the Ryan/Romney budget plan is a loser.

  8. JKB says:

    Well, the Democrats are the ones out selling the Medicare angle. They see their lies about Ryan’s plan as a way to create just another divisive group to exploit. Same with the other hits.

    But they Ryan budget plan was/is an attempt to address the systemic risks in the economy. Another stimulus piled on the $5 trillion dollar Obama debt addition isn’t going to create sustainable jobs that create tax dollars rather than wash and spin them. Let the Dems draw out and exhaust the arguments. The fact is, Obama not only doesn’t have a plan for how to handle the coming Medicare collapse, he doesn’t have a clue.

    Nor does Obama have a plan to get the economy going. Just last week, there were several posts on the “new normal” and economic decline for the US. Juicy stuff for the hate America crowd but it gave lie to the question, is a prosperous America beyond the policies of Obama. I remember the last time I heard about the “new normal”. I was in high school and it indeed looked bleak. But the voters threw out Carter and prosperity returned. Might happen here, or those that vote for Obama may take us all down with their love of cronyism, corruption and the abandonment of the rule of law.

    We shall see

  9. michael reynolds says:

    @Jeremy R:

    I can’t for the life of me understand the endless obsession with this SuperPAC ad that hasn’t actually aired anywhere,

    Bullies sometimes panic when the victim starts hitting back. Mr. Romney lies so frequently – every he opens his mouth – that he’s almost inoculated himself by making fact-checking a labor of Hercules. He does nothing but lie. But when we give him a taste of his own, the GOP water carriers all panic. The victim is hitting back! Unfair!

  10. jan says:

    Over the weekend I heard portions of speeches given by Romney/Ryan in Virginia, NC and WI. On Monday I caught snippets of comments from Ryan in Iowa and Romney in FL. In all those speeches remarks were centered on the economy — mainly jobs and offering more private sector opportunities to create jobs. Both men have blasted government cronyism, spending more than you have, the need to bring down long term deficits etc., and simply telling the truth about the real fiscal weaknesses that exist in this country.

    Yes, addressing entitlement programs has also been included. But, these third rail issues are part and parcel of an array of economic problems that have been deferred or deflected by the current and former administrations. And they are all on the Romney/Ryan table for review and fiscal editing. If this makes them losers come November, then that is what it will be. It is a well known saying that people earn the type of government they vote in. And, if they want more of the same then Obama is their guy. But, I am glad that there is at least one set of contenders who are willing to step up and discuss all the economic issues, not just the ones that have the least amount of risk or controversy associated with them. It’s really amazing that the oh so progressive social progressives main themes are supporting the status quo, grounded in statism.

    BTW, the medicare (AKA mediscare) topic is one that is being ignited more though distorted sound bites delivered by the dems. By putting this issue front and center of all the other ones, dem strategists calculate they can scare enough people to win the GE. The goal for them, after all, is not about saving anything but themselves and their own jobs!

  11. stonetools says:

    Doug, you miss the point. It ALWAYS been about the economy, but its not about specific policies- its about who do you trust to fix the economy.
    Why hasn’t Romney’s focus on the economy failed to move the voters? Its simple-Romney HAS no real plan to reduce unemployment and get the economy moving. His plan, such as it is, is to cut taxes on the rich, deregulate business, soak the poor, and maintain defense spending-the Bush plan turned up to 11. The public has recent proof that such a plan will fail. Moreover the plan enriches him and folks like him (hence the focus on Romney’s tax returns) while shredding the social safety net for middle and working class folk who lose jobs (the Bain attacks). Why do you think right wingers went bananas over the “Understands”: ads? Is it because of factual inaccuracies? Hardly. It is because it shows white, working class folks being victimized , for profit, by Romney and folks like Romney. And the white working class is Romney’s base.
    The narrative became not ” The economy sucks, and I, Romney, super businessman, am the man to fix it” but “The economy sucks, and I Romney, am the man who profited by gaming the system and outsourcing your jobs and screwing you out of your pensions”. That’s still a narrative about the economy, but its a narrative, not about “How to fix the economy” but “Who do you want in charge of fixing the economy.” That’s not a narrative that Romney was winning, which is why he picked what he hopes is a more likable guy to be VP.

    Ryan’s plan is the Bush plan turned up to 33 Its even more unpopular than Romney’s plan. But Ryan might be someone that the public trusts more than Romney to fix the economy. Team Obama hasn’t opened fire yet, though.

  12. john personna says:

    It is interesting that the Republicans, never big on social contracts, offered us a social contract circa 2004 to 2012. It was “cut taxes on wealth creators, and we’ll give you jobs.”

    Many of us were skeptical of that deal, but it sold, particularly with working class Republicans. Joe the plumber.

    The thing that your (Doug) claim, that this could be about the economy, is missing is that it all blew up with Bain. When called on lack of job creation the Romney backers folded, and said their responsibility was to investors.

    That capitulation cannot be over emphasized. It will hound the GOP for years.

    Because if the wealth creators aren’t giving us jobs, what are they giving us?

  13. Jib says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    What Obama understands (though he is hardly going out of his way to address directly) is that for almost every American–and I’m thinking that this includes a lot of wealthy people–income inequality and the failures of deregulation and globalization ARE behind economic failure.

    This.

    Globalization and de-regulation have solved all the econ problems they can and now we are left with the problems they could not solve and the ones they have created. Globalization and de-regulation are the problems now.

    While almost everyone I talk to in the real world, right and left, recognize this and all have various ideas (some conservative and some liberal) on how to fix it, you never hear it discussed on the national stage. Instead we are talking about what…..deficit reduction at a time the govt borrows at 0% and ‘fixing’ a medicare program that may go bankrupt sometime in the next 20 years?

    (BTW, how come people who normally scoff at any predictions by the govt somehow take as gospel govt predictions for what the econ will be like in 20 years? However, I will say that Romney is right about this, the fact the the US spends twice as much per GDP than ANY other country for health care IS THE PROBLEM. Medicare is a symptom of the real problem and you cant fix it unless you fix the bigger problem.)

    The real divide is not right vs left, it is between the liberals and conservatives who cling to neo-liberal economics of the last 30 years and the new candidates who understand that it is time to move on. Once we replace the neo-liberal politicians of both parties, then we can get back to left vs right again.

  14. michael reynolds says:

    @john personna:

    That capitulation cannot be over emphasized. It will hound the GOP for years.

    Because if the wealth creators aren’t giving us jobs, what are they giving us?

    I think that’s very astute, and well-stated.

  15. anjin-san says:

    Both men have blasted government cronyism, spending more than you have,

    Jan never seems to mention that Ryan voted for Bush era budget busting bills, again, and again, and again…

  16. grumpy realist says:

    @jan: if Ryan is so fantastic, fiscally, why did he support Bush up the wazoo in all Bush’s deficit-busting programs?

    And if you think that Ryan’s so-called “budget” actually fixes anything, I’m surprised that you have the financial acument to run a company. Please answer the following questions:

    Who is going to offer these wonderful medical insurance plans to seniors at low prices?

    If there is a market out there to offer insurance to senior citizens, why did Medicare/Medicaid have to be created in the first place? (I hope you’re not trying to say that there didn’t used to be a problem.)

    What happens if the voucher amounts are less that the increases in costs per year?

    Medicaid covers a lot of old people in nursing homes. If Medicaid gets pushed down to the state level, who is going to cover this? Does this mean that the states with a lot of old people (Hello, southern states!) will have to raise their taxes? Or are they going to simply shove the old people out on the sidewalk and expect it to be “someone else
    s problem”?

    Are you personally willing to take on the responsibility of taking care of your own parents and the parents of your spouse? If not, why not?

  17. john personna says:

    Typing slowly on a phone, so maybe someone will complete this thought sooner …

    The reason Bain’s current outsourcing to China matters is not that Romney is involved or responsible, it is about that old wealth creator argument.

    Do we seriously charge them 15% tax on carried interest because they are good to us?

  18. JKB says:

    @Jib: “… the liberals and conservatives who cling to neo-liberal economics of the last 30 years and the new candidates who understand that it is time to move on. ”

    The Tea Party is electing as fast as they can. Soon we will have the new candidates in place

    But I suspect you mean candidates other than the Tea Party. if so, could you offer some links or summary of this “new” economics and how it is suppose to work?

  19. john personna says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Thanks, man

  20. David M says:

    @jan:
    That’s dedication there, coming up with new ways to repeat lies for Rmoney/Ryan. Although I have to wonder why, when we’ll just point out it out. Romney’s budget is a fantasy.

  21. C. Clavin says:

    @ Jan…

    “…simply telling the truth…”

    Jan…it is proven here almost every day that you are a liar.
    You wouldn’t know the truth if it bit you in the arse.

  22. stonetools says:

    @john personna:

    Nailed it. Mitt Romney is an exemplar of the “Job Creator Class”. Is the record at Bain one of job creation in the USA, concern for workers and their communities, and a willingness to pay their fair share of taxes? Based on that record, do you trust the leader of Bain to be the leader of the US economy?

  23. al-Ameda says:

    As I noted on Sunday, it strikes me that Romney’s campaign will be make a serious error if the allow this election to be about anything other than the economy.

    The Ryan Plan is all about the economy. Ryan/Romany propose to reduce the top federal income tax bracket rate by 27% (from 34% to 25%), cut corporate taxes, increase defense spending, and still end up with deficit spending at current levels for the next ten years. If that’s not about our economy, what is?

    We just took that path, from 2001-2008, with two Bush tax cuts, two deficit-funded wars, one unfunded Supplemental Medicare Program. Now Ryan/Romney want to double down on that?

    And, we’re not even talking about the Ryan/Romney Plan to begin the privatization of Medicare – shifting hundreds of billions of dollars in medical expenses per year on to retired Americans.

    Again, are American voters willing to run off the cliff with Romney and Ryan? Perhaps. We are definitely dumbed down enough to do it.

  24. David M says:

    @al-Ameda:

    And, we’re not even talking about the Ryan/Romney Plan to begin the privatization of Medicare – shifting hundreds of billions of dollars in medical expenses per year on to retired Americans.

    But he’s brave…at least it’s a plan…fiscal responsibility….government bureaucrats…private sector….Dems suck 2012!!!

  25. Tsar Nicholas says:

    It is about the stupid, economy. Always has been.

    It’s just that Team Romney is so country club inept they really haven’t figured that out. They’re slow. Not in a IQ sense but definitely in a political sense. They’re cocooned. They’re rich whitebread beyond the point of self-parody.

    Eventually they’ll clue in. Presumably. Well, maybe. OK, probably not.

  26. Cycloptichorn says:

    @jan:

    BTW, the medicare (AKA mediscare) topic

    The name ‘Mediscare’ wouldn’t be effective or accurate unless people actually WERE scared of what the GOP is proposing.

    And, they are right to be. When you fundamentally change the nature of an earned benefit program to make it worth less and less over time – intentionally so! – you are destroying that program. When you propose putting seniors on the open market for insurance, instead of defining that market, you are setting up a situation in which many will not be able to purchase or afford insurance.

    I seriously question why today’s seniors are being exempted from the plan, if it’s supposedly such a good idea. Why not try and actually sell it to the people who have experience with the current system? If it’s so much better, it ought to be an easy sell.

    But, it isn’t, and it isn’t. And that’s a killer for the GOP position.

  27. C. Clavin says:

    @ Doug…
    The Ryan plan puts me in a 25% tax bracket and eliminates my mortgage interest deduction.
    So my effective rate of 14% (same as Romney’s current rate) will be increased by 11%.
    Romneys, on the other hand, will go to near zero under the Ryan plan. So Romney gets a rate reduction of 13%.
    Is that the economy you think they should be talking about?
    Or is it the economy driven by unicorn tears?

  28. jan says:

    Thomas Sowell has been very dubious of Romney’s campaign thus far. But, like many others in the republican party, Romney’s intention towards addressing fiscal realities took hold with his Paul Ryan choice as VP.

    Here’s a rather clever play on words in describing what Sowell thinks is an important attribute of the Obama era of leadership:

    When Ronald Reagan ran against President Jimmy Carter back in 1980, he asked the question that should be asked of the voters when any president is seeking reelection: “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”

    Four years later, when Reagan ran for reelection, he implicitly asked and answered that same question in a campaign commercial titled “Morning in America,” which listed the ways the country was better off than it had been four years earlier. Don’t look for any “Morning in America” ads from Obama. “Mourning in America” might be more appropriate.

  29. Barry says:

    @grumpy realist: “Except that just talking about the economy isn’t going to do you any good, if your only answer is Tax Cuts! Tax Cuts! Tax Cuts! ”

    Tax Cuts for the Rich!
    Benefits Cuts for the Rest!

    Subsidies for the Rich!
    Benefits Cuts for the Rest!

  30. Barry says:

    @JKB: “But they Ryan budget plan was/is an attempt to address the systemic risks in the economy. ”

    This is simply a lie. The Ryan ‘plan’ is to cut taxes on the rich, benefits on everybody else, and then to invoke unnamed other stuff to make it work, and even then it doesn’t work.

    It’s a pile of fraud, and even his fraudulent numbers didn’t add up.

  31. al-Ameda says:

    @David M:

    But he’s brave…at least it’s a plan…fiscal responsibility….government bureaucrats…private sector….Dems suck 2012!!!

    Honestly, “at least it’s a plan!” is almost as content-free and judgement-free as “both sides do it.”

    Why is a bad plan preferable to no plan?

  32. stonetools says:

    @jan:

    I was a big reader of Sowell in the 1980s and I liked a lot of what he said. I’ve moved on, though. Here, although he admires Ryan and disapproves of Obama, I note he does not specifically approve the Ryan PLAN.That’s because as an economist, he knows it doesn’t add up. Apparently, political hackery has its limits.

  33. Modulo Myself says:

    It’s weird that people call Medicare a risk, like it’s an asset on a balance sheet or something. Medicare pays for what insurance companies refuse to pay. It pays for healthcare, for actual people who live and grow old and require expensive care. It’s that simple. The risk is not a number, it’s called growing old and dying.

    No one is arguing that the costs need to be contained, but the GOP seems filled with only with people who view the entire thing as no different than a projection on some spreadsheet, a thing to be quantified and screwed with and then lied about. I get the sense that this is the kind of humanity that these people really are comfortable with, data, numbers, and ways to screw people over. Which is ironic, given that every day for thirty years we’ve all been informed by the Freedom F. Freedom Institute how much economic freedom is against mindless trudging bureaucracy.

    But it turns out that the bureaucrat fantasized by the nasty dim interior life of a Reagan is perfectly fine, as long as you get to kick poor people in the head once or twice with someone else’s boot.

  34. Modulo Myself says:

    @stonetools:

    You know you have hit bottom when the complaint about Obama is that he lacks the factual accuracy of Ronald Reagan.

  35. C. Clavin says:

    Jan quotes Thomas Sowell…who is the guy that compared Obama to Hitler because BP had to pay for damages in the Gulf….so it makes sense that she would read him.
    But even funnier is this from Jan;

    “…Romney’s intention towards addressing fiscal realities…”

    Jan…you are aware that Romney’s economic plan is mathematically impossible…right?
    How in your mind does mathematically impossible address fiscal reality? Can you square that circle for us?

  36. jan says:

    From TNR: Why demogoguing Paul Ryan is bad for democrats

    He’s making similar points to my own:

    Let me be specific. A number of Democrats once believed—and some still do—that a well-crafted version of premium support is part of a balanced and sustainable long-term fix for Medicare. If the effect of the Ryan choice is to take not only the Ryan budget’s version of premium support off the table, but also the kinds of approaches that Alice Rivlin and Ron Wyden have proposed, then we’ll be left with far less appealing options for stabilizing Medicare.

    This is one example of a broader point: The status quo is a very poor point of departure for the decisions we’ll have to make—if not in 2013, when we should, then later, and under duress. If Obama wins the election by playing on the fear of change, which is very real, then the election will settle nothing, and our already dysfunctional political system will be mired in gridlock indefinitely.

  37. Cycloptichorn says:

    @C. Clavin:

    I doubt she or any other die-hard Romney supporter will address the fact that the math doesn’t add up in those plans. They can’t do so without first admitting it to themselves; and that’s taking for granted the idea that any of them understand that economics is a lot more than Ideology.

  38. Septimius says:

    I actually agree with the drones on this one. Focusing exclusively on the economy wasn’t working. There are only so many ways Romney can say “the economy sucks” before the voters start to tune out. Everyone already knows that the economy sucks. And, Romney has not adequately proposed what he would do differently other than tax cuts. There is only so much that the Romney campaign can do to steer the agenda. The Obama campaign and the press also have a role in determining what issues are at play in the election, and they have shown that they will focus on just about anything other than the economy.

    So, if the choice is between tax returns or entitlement reform, I pick entitlement reform. Even if it isn’t necessarily the best issue for Romney. At least it’s something that’s relevant to the country.

  39. michael reynolds says:

    @C. Clavin:

    How in your mind does mathematically impossible address fiscal reality? Can you square that circle for us?

    I’m going to guess no. What do I win if I’m right?

  40. David M says:

    @jan:

    Shorter Willam Galston (TNR): Don’t be mean to the GOP, they might not cooperate if Obama wins.

    And that’s convincing why? It’s up to the GOP to be adults and cooperate.

  41. JKB says:

    @Barry: It’s a pile of fraud, and even his fraudulent numbers didn’t add up.

    This Democrat, an Obama appointee to his commission on fiscal responsibility seems to see things differently in Ryan’s budget. So you might want to back up you Obama talking points with citations

  42. C. Clavin says:

    @ Michael Reynolds…
    Thank you for playing…and for winning…you get free business consulting from Drew…the world’s greatest corporate financier.

  43. Barry says:

    @JKB: “The Tea Party is electing as fast as they can. Soon we will have the new candidates in place”

    Whose only problem with neoliberalism is jack f-ing all; they *want* to cut taxes on the rich more and faster, and benefits on the rest of us more and faster.

    Meanwhile, the crony capitalism of the rich is safe.

  44. David M says:

    @JKB:

    Erskine Bowles saying 2+2=576 still doesn’t make it true.

  45. Cycloptichorn says:

    @JKB:

    Who cares what Bowles says? He doesn’t show how Ryan’s numbers add up in any fashion.

    The fact that Beltway insiders have a man-crush on Ryan isn’t proof of competence.

    As for citations about Ryan’s budget not adding up, do you really need us to link to the articles on it? Can’t you spend 30 seconds using Google yourself?

  46. anjin-san says:

    I remember the last time I heard about the “new normal”. I was in high school and it indeed looked bleak.

    Do you remember that the economy was in the crapper 1970-76 under GOP Presidents who passed their mess along to Carter? Do you remember Ford’s “WIN” buttons? Do you remember that Carter put Paul Vlocker in charge of the Fed? You know, Paul Vlocker – the guy who got the economy straightened out…

    Now Carter was a poor President, and Reagan was an improvement (I voted for him, twice) but your version of events is a bit biased, to say the least.

  47. JKB says:

    @C. Clavin: Jan…you are aware that Romney’s economic plan is mathematically impossible…right?

    You are behind. The study you got that from has been thoroughly refuted and discredited

    It isn’t easy being the intellectual frontmen for President Obama’s re-election campaign, as the boys at the Brookings-Urban Institute Tax Policy Center are discovering. Their ballyhooed study of Mitt Romney’s tax plan looks worse with each new examination.

  48. anjin-san says:

    @ Jan

    Why are you ducking the issue of Ryan’s long (very!) string of budget busting votes during the Bush era? If you believe in Ryan, why do you refuse to discuss his record?

  49. grumpy realist says:

    I notice that Jan hasn’t answered any of the questions I asked.

    Probably because she can’t.

    Oh, and Jan, if this plan is so great, why don’t we start it right now? Why doesn’t Ryan have the guts to go out on the campaign trail and say “we’re going to start giving your vouchers to purchase health insurance, from next year onwards. That’ll give the health insurance companies enough time to get their programs up and running.”

    Also, is this new wonderful health insurance program allowed to discriminate against people with existing conditions?

    I get the feeling that Jan will never understand any of this until she or a member of her family has a serious medical problem and no insurance.

  50. David M says:

    @JKB: The WSJ has to contradict Romney’s statements to reach their assumptions, so I’m not sure that really helps.

  51. Barry says:

    @JKB: Erskine ‘Catfood Commission’ Bowles?

    Please.

  52. C. Clavin says:

    @ JKB…
    Eskine Bowles is Ryan’s favorite Democrat….hardly a neutral source.
    But here is what he said just a couple days ago about Romney’s economic plan:

    “…“Romney’s tax plan wouldn’t cut the deficit….As a businessman with real respect and appreciation for Mitt Romney’s business career, I plead, from one numbers guy to another: You must have a balanced plan that reforms the tax code in a progressive, pro-growth manner and produces additional revenue if you are serious about reducing the deficit by at least $4 trillion without disrupting the country’s fragile economic recovery and hurting the disadvantaged….Romney said that his tax reform proposal is ‘very similar to the Simpson-Bowles plan.’ How I wish it were.”

    As for the WSJ Opinion piece that you claim debunks “mathematically impossible”…it does that by misreading the studies.
    Nice try though.

  53. JKB says:

    @grumpy realist: If this plan is so great, why don’t we start it right now? Why doesn’t Ryan have the guts to go out on the campaign trail and say “we’re going to start giving your vouchers to purchase health insurance, from next year onwards.

    Ah, because the Senate didn’t pass the budget but it did receive 40 yes votes and Obama didn’t sign it into law. See, for those confused, there is the legislative process through which a budget must pass

  54. Barry says:

    Thanks, Clavin.

    So Jan can’t even come up with support for his plan.

  55. David M says:

    @JKB:
    You didn’t answer the question. Why does Ryan exempt seniors from his plan for a decade? If it’s so good, why doesn’t it take effect immediately in his proposals?

  56. anjin-san says:

    Why does Ryan exempt seniors from his plan for a decade?

    To buy their votes? We will screw the next generation, but you will be spared…

  57. stonetools says:

    Whats interesting is that since Ryan’s choice as VP his reputation as a “thoughtful, numbers-crunching intellectual with a serious, mature plan about the economy” has disintegrated . The liberals, led by Krugman, have gone on about this for some time, but now even conservatives don’t defend the Ryan plan-indeed, even his boss doesn’t.

    Contra Doug, the debate still is about the economy, but there has to be a larger debate about any particular program. You have to settle the debate on what you want government to do. Here, from Mahablog:

    But Ryan, he says, is a true believer who really would shrink government and drown it in the bathtub. And the debate we need to have with the American people is, Is this really want you want? Do you really want to live with the result, if this were actually done? Have it out, once and for all. People, do you really want to break up the Medicare and Social Security programs, take food out of the mouths of poor babies, let our infrastructure rot and forest fires rage and meat go uninspected so that billionaires can get a bigger tax cut? Is that really want you want? Because, whether you realize it or not, that’s what you keep voting for. And then you wonder why government is so bl*****ed up.

    So, I don’t think we should merely dismiss Ryan’s plan as crazy. We need to clearly explain why it is crazy.

  58. JKB says:

    @David M: You didn’t answer the question. Why does Ryan exempt seniors from his plan for a decade?

    Look, I get it, you have the critical thinking skills of a drunk sorority girl.

    So I’ll see if I can put this in terms a humanities major can understand. You can’t just suddenly alter entitlements that people have planned around. You must phase them in over a decade or so to give people time to adapt their retirement plans. Also, you leave out that going to the voucher system is elective.

    The Ryan plan isn’t offered as better than free unlimited benefits. It is offered as a plan to stabilize Medicare which will overun, become unstable and the benefits will evaporate due to rising costs. It is an adult solution that requires the ability to think critically of the future, it was understood that a large part of the Democrat “educated” constituency wouldn’t understand given their lack of experience with budgets and the real world.

  59. Smooth Jazz says:

    Yeah, that’s the ticket. Keep quoting BS-NBC’s “First Read”, the epitome of left wing, Beltway echo chamber hand wringing. Meanwhile, in the real wolrld, Romney takes a 2 point lead in the Gallup tracking, the first time he has had such a lead since early June.

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/150743/Obama-Romney.aspx

  60. David M says:

    @JKB

    You can’t just suddenly alter entitlements that people have planned around. You must phase them in over a decade or so to give people time to adapt their retirement plans. Also, you leave out that going to the voucher system is elective.

    Really, that’s just sad. You are claiming you can’t make changes that are elective, because people have been planning for something else. That’s moronic.

  61. Lynda says:

    Not sure how many people are familiar with the classic British comedy Yes Minister but by their definition think Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan for VP is a courageous decision vs. a controversial one
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ik8JT2S-kBE

  62. Drew says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Projecting? Douche bag?

  63. C. Clavin says:

    @ JKB…
    I’m 53…10 years is enough for me to restructure one of the most important aspects of retirement planning?
    What do you think is driving the Medicare “crisis”? It’s Health Care costs. What does the Ryan plan do about Health care costs? Nothing.
    It is not what you claim at all…it is not an adult solution that looks to the future. It’s a cost-shifting exercise that solves nothing. And in the process it creates more problems because you will have seniors out there who cannot be insured because private insurers don’t want to insure them…why?…because they have a pre-existing condition…they are old!!! Which is why we have Medicare in the first place. So 50 years later…thanks to Republicans who want to give more tax cuts to Mitt Romney we will be back where we were in the 60’s. Now that’s progress.
    You can be sure when someone like JKB starts talking about sorority girls he/she is simply projecting.

  64. Joash Moitui says:

    n comparison to today’s economy John Gait’s speech is a true reflection of what the
    current politicians engage in, they are always involved in initiating ways which can best help revive the largely recessed economy.

    An example is the introduction of bailout plans and economic stimulus scheme. According to Burn (2009) politicians invariably attend to crises which come as result of their own in competencies during the inception of plans aimed at addressing different problems.

    In most cases they will initiate new government programs as well as laws and regulations to contain the crises they themselves created. She continues to argue that, this in turn embraces more havoc and poverty.

    This in turn leads the same politicians to come up with more plans. This, downward spiral will always repeat itself to the extend that productive sectors of the economy collapse at the expense of tax payers in the name of fairness, moral values and equality.
    http://www.highqualitypapers.net/2012/02/john-galt-speech-comparison-to-todays-economy/

  65. john personna says:

    @Cycloptichorn:

    Bowles specifically says that cuts-only and taxes-only plans both fail:

    However, there were great differences of opinion in each of these budget proposals on just what specifically should be cut, on whether there should be any cuts in the income support programs and entitlements, and on whether there should be any revenue enhancements at all. By and large, the Republicans felt strongly that there should not be any tax increases, and Democrats felt there should not be any entitlement cuts. Unfortunately, excluding either revenue increases or any cuts in entitlement programs makes achieving deficit reduction of $4 trillion practically impossible.

    I guess Jan thinks she can “message” on part of what he said, leaving the rest aside.

  66. slimslowslider says:

    @Drew: You don’t know how to quit him, do you?

  67. JKB says:

    Well, a very senior Obama official agreed way back in 2005 that Medicare needed fixing. In those last 7 years, with Obama being in the Whitehouse for 3 1/2 of them, Obama hasn’t done anything to avert the Medicare crisis. In fact, his diversion of $700 billion to hide the deficit increases due to Obamacare has made the crisis even more critical.

    So the question is, where is the Democrat plan for fixing Medicare? How about Obama’s?

  68. David M says:

    @JKB:

    Cutting future Medicare expenditures and not doing anything about future Medicare costs are mutually exclusive.

  69. john personna says:

    @JKB:

    I’m really paying you little attention, because you are playing the “ignore what happens in congress” game. If the loathed (15% approval rating) congress won’t do a thing, then Obama (43% approval) is at fault, right?

    Now, the really interesting thing about the Ryan pick is that he isn’t just some guy. He’s some guy plucked from that good for nothing Congress.

    So, I think the cognitive dissonance in your argument is a bit too much for me to believe in. Blame Obama, because congress did nothing, and take some extremist from congress and campaign him as your symbol of renewal.

    That and GOP pros fret over Paul Ryan, something that wouldn’t quite happen in the world you describe.

  70. Herb says:

    @Smooth Jazz:

    “Romney takes a 2 point lead in the Gallup tracking, the first time he has had such a lead since early June.”

    A 2 point lead in a poll with a margin of error of 2? C’mon….no need to get the trumpets out for that.

    That’s a dead heat.

  71. Hoot Gibson says:

    And out-of-control, unsustainable entitlements are not about the economy because….?

  72. David M says:

    @Hoot Gibson:

    And out-of-control, unsustainable entitlements are not about the economy because….?

    Whether Medicare or SS have financial difficulties 20 years from now is not affecting the economy today.

  73. jukeboxgrad says:

    jkb:

    This Democrat, an Obama appointee

    That’s the same speech where Bowles lavished praise on Newt Gingrich, Trent Lott and David Brooks. So there are a few reasons to take his words with a grain of salt (link, link).

  74. C. Clavin says:

    @ JKB…

    “…So the question is, where is the Democrat plan for fixing Medicare? How about Obama’s? “

    It’s called the PPACA…it addresses the root cause of Medicare problems…and Medicare costs are already showing positive effects because of it.
    Could it do more? Sure. Is it better than the Republican plan…which is nothing? For damn sure.

  75. john personna says:

    @JKB:

    You now when we used to blame Presidents? Back before Congress went nuts with polarization and procedural breakdown?

    We used to blame Presidents when they were presented a good bill, and vetoed it.

    This new game of blaming the President for bills Congress never passed is sick.

  76. JKB says:

    @C. Clavin:

    You really need to start offering up some citation instead of just talking out your backside. Where are these signs? How does the PPACA impact the root cause of Medicare when it addresses insurance coverage for all but those qualified for Medicare?

    This isn’t a liberal arts course, here spouting talking points in your assertions mean nothing, you need references for those items that are not you opinion.

  77. David M says:

    By the way, the last time the GOP “reformed” Medicare, their contributions were Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D. I seem to remember those being unfunded and causing part of the problems we face today, so I’m not sure why the GOP is suddenly credible when they talk about controlling Medicare costs.

  78. jukeboxgrad says:

    anjin-san:

    Jan never seems to mention that Ryan voted for Bush era budget busting bills, again, and again, and again

    Yes. As Larison has pointed out:

    [Ryan] supported adding significantly to the government’s long-term liabilities without making any effort to pay for them, and now he is supposed to be the voice of fiscal sanity?

    And then there’s Stockman:

    Ryan showed his conservative mettle in 2008 when he folded like a lawn chair on the auto bailout and the Wall Street bailout. But the greater hypocrisy is his phony “plan” to solve the entitlements mess by deferring changes to social insurance by at least a decade. … Like his new boss, Mr. Ryan has no serious plan to create jobs. … Ryan’s plan is devoid of credible math or hard policy choices.

    Larison and Stockman are not liberals.

  79. David M says:

    @JKB:

    How does the PPACA impact the root cause of Medicare when it addresses insurance coverage for all but those qualified for Medicare?

    Here you go! This is pretty common knowledge, I’m surprised anyone would discuss the PPACA with so little understanding of the issue.

  80. JKB says:

    @john personna: This new game of blaming the President for bills Congress never passed is sick.

    Did Obama present a bill to Congress for consideration? If so, please provide a link. Sure, Congress may not have acted on it but where was the bill submitted, where did it die? Was something offered when Democrats controlled both the House and Senate with an overwhelming majority in the Senate?

    Presidents offer plans, develop allies in Congress, submit legislation and then use their bully pulpit to build support for their plans. I don’t remember any of that. Obama barely even used the bully pulpit for Obamacare which he farmed out to Reid and Pelosi. As a person who can get things done with the legislature, Obama is a complete non-participant. Heck, he couldn’t even get anything done when he was a Senator except for some hand out legislation presented for his name with bow on top.

    Obama has supposedly had popularity on his side all through his tenure, why can he not accomplish anything without an overwhelming party majority and then just barely.

  81. john personna says:

    @JKB:

    Dropping back to an earlier comment, you wrote:

    The Tea Party is electing as fast as they can. Soon we will have the new candidates in place

    You’ve got to be a bit detached NOT to tie that to Tea Party threats to default on the national debt, and that low 15% Congressional approval rating.

    Your answer to a messed up government is to double-down on the crazy.

  82. anjin-san says:

    And out-of-control, unsustainable entitlements

    SS is not a difficult fix – Republicans simply don’t want to fix it. Baffling, since a SS fix was one of Reagan’s signature accomplishments. But then Reagan was not a silver spoon kind of guy, he came up the hard way.

    An attempt to conflate SS & Medicare is an easy way to ensure you are not taken seriously.

  83. Rob in CT says:

    It’s funny… the PPACA was designed to reform healthcare (financing) and involved pulling some money out of an inefficient Medicare program. The GOP response to that was to scream about how the Democrats cut your Medicare, OMG!

    Now we have GOP voters in this very discussion claiming that the Dems are ducking the Medicare problem.

    Un-f*cking-believeable.

  84. john personna says:

    @JKB:

    That’s just stupid. When Congress says “the President should do our job too!” their approval falls even further.

  85. anjin-san says:

    Obama has supposedly had popularity on his side all through his tenure, why can he not accomplish anything without an overwhelming party majority

    House Republicans have made it clear their priority is to defeat Obama. It’s on record. Not create jobs, not lower the deficit, not help people who are losing their homes.

    Their priority is to defeat a political opponent and take more power for themselves. Period.

  86. Lit3Bolt says:

    @michael reynolds:

    What John Personna said, extremely well I might add.

    The political and financial elite have always guaranteed some sort of implicit social contract throughout history with the working classes. However, if American aristocrats offer nothing except the destruction of the health and welfare of its citizens and grant themselves even more privileges and wealth for the arduous job of simply owning so much (and threatening to just pick up their capital and leave if we’re not nice to them), well, things will turn ugly quickly.

    The low income voters have nothing in common with Romney and Ryan, except for religion and a shared culture of hatred of “those people.” Romney’s Mormon status casts doubt on the religion front, which is one of the main reasons I think he picked Ryan the Arch-Catholic.

  87. JKB says:

    @David M:

    Funny, Obama and Biden seem to not want to highlight those mythical reforms. “Death Panels” and refusal to pay providers their cost is not a way to control costs and still have the benefit.

    Of course, the whole PPACA will probably collapse on itself due to serous flaws that impede logical implementation. Here, read about it from someone other than a Democrat mouthpiece in the media.

    Oh and since we are arbitrarily dismissing the opinions and statements of those we don’t like, I will dismiss Ezra Klein. Ever since he revealed himself to be to stupid to realize that carbonara could not be low calorie, I’ve questioned his knowledge and judgement

  88. David M says:

    @JKB: Nothing you have posted changes the facts that the Democrats have a plan to control health care costs, and that you are not telling the truth about those plans. Remind me again why I should take a known liar seriously? (In case you’re having trouble keeping up, even if you don’t think the PPACA will control costs, it doesn’t mean the Democrats haven’t done anything to control costs.)

  89. David M says:

    @JKB:
    On second thought, your reading comprehension level has never seemed that great, so I probably do have to spell things out for you.

    These are false statements:
    The Democrats have not done anything to control Medicare costs.
    The Democrats do not have a plan to control Medicare costs.

    These are not false statements:
    I don’t think the Democratic plans to control Medicare costs will work.
    I think the Republican plans to control Medicare costs are better than Obama’s.

  90. stonetools says:

    Obama has supposedly had popularity on his side all through his tenure, why can he not accomplish anything without an overwhelming party majority and then just barely.

    Ever heard of the word” filibuster?’ Google it- maybe you’ll learn something.

  91. C. Clavin says:

    @ JKB…
    “…“Death Panels…”
    Epic fail.
    Actually what Republicans call “Death Panels” in their pathological way…is one of the most effective ways to save money. “Voluntary advance care planning” is aimed at the chronically ill and those towards the end of their lives…who account for nearly 80 percent of total health care costs. At one time…pre-Obama…this was an area of bi-partisan agreement. Today’s Republican answer? A voucher specifically designed not to keep pace with those costs…seniors with limited resources and compromised faculties dealing with private sector insurers who have absolutely no interest in insuring them.
    JKB…name one insurer who has agreed to take on seniors under the voucher program.

  92. David M says:

    Can anyone make an attempt at explaining the mindset that allows people to claim that the PPACA doesn’t control Medicare costs and that Obama shouldn’t have cut Medicare spending by $700b in the same thread?

    If $700b was cut, then the PPACA will help control costs. If the PPACA doesn’t control costs, then what happened to the $700b?

    I really don’t understand the thought processes that allow someone to make both claims. I don’t expect the trolls to cheer for Obama, but I would think some self-awareness and not wanting to look like a complete idiot would matter. (Obviously I’m wrong about their willingness to look like fools.)

  93. anjin-san says:

    @ JKB…
    “…“Death Panels…”
    Epic fail.

    Indeed. You might as well tatoo “I am a moron” on your forehead.

  94. anjin-san says:

    JKB…name one insurer who has agreed to take on seniors under the voucher program.

    I am a heathy 53 year old and it was not that easy for me to get individual coverage. I am trying to figure out how my 79 year old mother, who has had 2 go rounds with cancer, is going to take her little voucher and get coverage.

  95. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @David M:

    I think the Republican plans to control Medicare costs are better than Obama’s.

    Except that they have offered zero plan for controlling any health care costs… So, I think we would have to call that one false too.

  96. wr says:

    @jan: “Morning in America” ads from Obama. “Mourning in America” might be more appropriate.

    This is what you consider a clever play on words? That tells me everything I’ll ever need to know about you.

  97. wr says:

    @wr: Okay, that was a cheap shot and completely unnecessary, and if there were still an edit button here, I’d delete it.

  98. C. Clavin says:

    @ wr…
    somtimes you just need to pick the low hanging fruit.

  99. wr says:

    @JKB: That’s really brilliant. The nonsense op-ed claims that Romney’s plans add up as long as the Feds eliminate deductability of municipal bonds interest, which will only destroy any localities attempts to build or repair infrastructure as there will no longer be a compelling reason to buy their bonds.

    So tell me, JKB, do you believe Romney will come out in favor of this radical move? Do you think that he should radically restructure the way American governments work just to give himself another tax cut?

  100. wr says:

    @C. Clavin: “somtimes you just need to pick the low hanging fruit. ”

    Yeah, but it’s the hack Sowell who thought that pearl was witty enough to put into print. If Jan in incapable of telling the difference between wit and heavy-handed cliche-mongering, we should just feel sorry for her and hope some day she stumbles across a piece of great prose that opens her eyes.

  101. C. Clavin says:

    “…hope some day she stumbles across a piece of great prose that opens her eyes…”

    Good luck with that.

  102. grumpy realist says:

    What I wish we could go to is a two-prong system: a National Health Service a la Japan/UK/Canada for those who want it, and the “blessings” of Teh Free Market for anyone else.

    The NHS would cover everyone from 0 to 21 years of age. At 21, you’d have to reconfirm your committment to it, otherwise you’d be dropped at that point. You could also drop out of the system entirely.

    You could switch back from one system to another, provided that your health when you switched from non-NHS to NHS was at least as good as the average American of your age and sex on the NHS system.

    The NHS would be able to squawk at you about eatingyourvegetables and ration health care based on how useful it would probably be, your expected future contribution to society, and how well you were taking care of yourself. You could always buy supplementary insurance if you wanted. The private health insurance companies could do anything they wanted. Sell across state lines, etc. The total Free Market Free-for-all that those on the right claim is so successful.

    This would give us a direct comparison of how well a NHS system stacks up against the free market health care system everyone is claiming is so great.

  103. David M says:

    For all the supposed excitement over Ryan (and Romney by extension), I find it illuminating that there aren’t any commenters actually defending their proposals. (Parroting a false claim from a campaign ad is not defending anything.)

    This would seem to support the idea that the Republican plans are political poison.

  104. JKB says:

    @David M:

    Try to keep up. PPACA and Medicare cover different age groups. Here let Romney explain

  105. David M says:

    @JKB: Were you hit in the head recently? Do you really have this little understanding of health care policy?

  106. jukeboxgrad says:

    jkb:

    PPACA and Medicare cover different age groups.

    So what? That’s beside the point. You said this:

    Obama … doesn’t have a plan for how to handle the coming Medicare collapse

    When Obama cuts $700 billion from Medicare (not really a cut, just a cap on future growth), it means that “Obama … doesn’t have a plan for how to handle the coming Medicare collapse.” But when Ryan’s budget cuts the exact same amount from Medicare, it means “Ryan will strengthen Medicare.”

    Thanks for clearing that up. In other news, war is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength.

    By the way, this latest dishonest ad from Mitt doesn’t bother mentioning this (regarding the Obama ‘cuts’):

    None of these reductions were financed by cuts to Medicare enrollees’ eligibility or benefits; benefits were improved in the ACA. Cuts were focused on hospitals, health insurers, home health, and other providers. Except for insurers, all the affected groups publicly supported the reductions to help finance the ACA’s expansion in health insurance to about 32 million uninsured Americans.

    The same concept is explained here:

    … the Affordable Care Act’s $700 billion reduction in the cost of Medicare came from cutting subsidies that the federal government would otherwise pay to insurance companies, drug companies, and in some cases, hospitals … Hospitals and drug companies actually supported the changes, which unlike Ryan’s plan, didn’t touch the consumers who use Medicare. By contrast, Ryan’s plan would cut the benefits that Medicare recipients receive — and do so drastically.

    As Klein has explained:

    Ryan and Obama envision the same long-term spending path for Medicare. The difference between the two campaigns is not in how much they cut Medicare, but in how they cut Medicare.

    Ryan cuts Medicare by “[cutting] the benefits that Medicare recipients receive.” Obama does it by “cutting subsidies that the federal government would otherwise pay to insurance companies [et al].”

    Try to keep up.

    The one not keeping up is you. Try to be nice and maybe some folks here will be willing to explain these things to you.

  107. C. Clavin says:

    @ JKB…
    It amazes me that people like you hold such strong opinions based on a total lack of understanding of the subject. I mean…zero.
    And then you refer to a campaign ad???
    Seriously???
    Oh my…

  108. stonetools says:

    @JKB:

    Er, the Ryan plan makes that the exact same cuts in Medicare that Obamacare does-then goes on to make Medicare into a voucher program, instead of guaranteed care. The Romney ad is a lie. Here, I’ll let health care economist Uwe Reinhardt ( Princeton University) explain it:

    Instead of spurring insurers to control their costs, Reinhardt said the Ryan plan would leave seniors out to drift. “You’re essentially shoving these guys out on a boat, saying, ‘We’ll give you a push, but if the waves are rough, you’re on your own,” he said. “It would really worry me if I were a middle-class American.”

    Antos said that seniors will end up paying more out of pocket under any Medicare reform plan out there — “the world is not getting better in that regard.”

    LINK

  109. C. Clavin says:

    @ JKB…
    Maybe if you learned what was really going on you would change your strongly held opinions.
    Same goes for you, Jan.

  110. jukeboxgrad says:

    One more thing.

    jkb:

    PPACA and Medicare cover different age groups.

    This statement reveals that you’re ignorant of a pretty basic fact about PPACA (pdf, p. 2):

    On March 23, 2010, the President signed into law H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act … The new law will, among other things, make numerous statutory changes to the Medicare program.

    So PPACA and Medicare aren’t really separate, because PPACA incorporates “numerous statutory changes” to Medicare.

    Try to keep up.

  111. jukeboxgrad says:

    Another good explanation of this issue was posted at WP today:

    Romney’s right: Obamacare cuts Medicare by $716 billion. Here’s how. … The majority of the cuts … come from reductions in how much Medicare reimburses hospitals and private health insurance companies. … It’s worth noting that there’s one area these cuts don’t touch: Medicare benefits. The Affordable Care Act rolls back payment rates for hospitals and insurers. It does not, however, change the basket of benefits that patients have access to.

    And this was also explained today at TPM:

    Though both Obama’s health care reform law and Ryan’s budget take $700 billion from Medicare, the cuts are actually different. Cuts made in the Affordable Care Act are to future growth and come from reimbursement reductions to hospitals, Medicaid prescription drugs and private insurance plans under Medicare Advantage. Ryan’s cuts come from shifting Medicare from its current form to subsidies for seniors to buy care themselves.

    Obama saves money in Medicare by convincing hospitals and insurance companies to accept less money. Ryan saves money in Medicare by cutting benefits. How Galtian.

    The lying liars in the GOP are going to be trying really hard to make sure no one really understands this.

  112. stonetools says:

    @C. Clavin:

    One of the disadvantages of having a campaign like RR, which is based so much on lies, is that due to Google and the Internet, you can shoot down those lies almost instantly. It must be disheartening for Romney supporters here to make claims based on Romney ads , only to have them refuted within minutes. I don’t know if they feel stupid , but they certainly look stupid.
    Here’s a clue , JKB and RR supporters : Whenever your guys make a claim, cross check to see what independent authorities have to say before posting . You’ll look better that way.

  113. stonetools says:

    Here is a video of Romney surrogate Jon Sununu having the exact same argument with Soledad O’ Brien over Medicare, and losing in embarrassing fashion, because O’Brien has the facts:

    http://www.mediaite.com/tv/obrien-and-sununus-epic-shouting-match-put-an-obama-bumper-sticker-on-your-forehead-when-you-do-this/

    “I understand that this is a Republican talking point because I’ve heard it repeated over and over again,” said O’Brien after Sununu insisted the Romney and Ryan plans were different. “And these numbers have been debunked, as you know, by the Congressional Budget Office.”

    “No they haven’t,” said Sununu.

    “Yes, they have,” answered O’Brien.

    “Oh boy!” said us.

    “I have the Congressional Budget Office Budget report right here,” Sununu said, waving it on camera. “Go read page 13 and 14.”

    “I can tell you what it says, yes,” said O’Brien. “It cuts a reduction in the expected rate of growth, which you know. Not cutting benefits to the elderly. Benefits will be improved. The focus is on hospitals. The focus is on health insurance.”

    Sununu lost it , tried to shout her down, and just looked like a damned fool. That’s just a public version of what happens here.

  114. stonetools says:
  115. David M says:

    As bogus as the Medicare attack is, it makes even less sense as the GOP sycophants are still constantly blathering on about needing to reform our unsustainable entitlements. This is what they claim to want.

  116. C. Clavin says:

    @ David M….
    And on top of that every single Democrat voted for it in the PPACA…and every single Republican voted for it in the Ryan Budget. Romney is the only guy that hasn’t voted for this thing.

    In other news Obama made a Seamus joke today. Apparently it hurt Romney’s feelings.

  117. wr says:

    @C. Clavin: “Maybe if you learned what was really going on you would change your strongly held opinions.
    Same goes for you, Jan”

    No, I think if they changed their strongly held opinions, they might be able to learn was was really going on. It’s never going to happen the other way around.

  118. al-Ameda says:

    @stonetools:

    Sununu lost it , tried to shout her down, and just looked like a damned fool. That’s just a public version of what happens here.

    This is what happens when the GOP gets called out on their bulls*** Alternative Talking Points Reality. It was embarrassing, Sununu didn’t think that a journalist would actually do the research (to be fair, why would he?)

  119. anjin-san says:

    Sununu has always been a blowhard and a jerk. He played a large role in the failure of the Bush 41 administration. It was kind of fun watching O’Brien fry his bacon.

  120. jukeboxgrad says:

    This is just the latest Etch-a-Sketch moment for Multiple Choice Mitt. He had already expressed support for the Ryan budget, which cuts $700B from Medicare:

    Romney has said he would have signed the Ryan budget, which would have contained the same cuts over which he is currently attacking Obama. As recently as Sunday, top Romney adviser Ed Gillespie said that “If the Romney, I’m sorry, if the Ryan budget had come to his desk as president, he would have signed it, of course.”

    But now everything has changed:

    The Romney campaign promises the cuts are not in its plan going forward without mentioning that they existed in the Ryan budget.

    From the same TPM article I cited earlier.

    Mitt was for the $700B Medicare cut before he was against it. What will he be for tomorrow? No one knows, including him. But it’s OK, because everyone knows he has boldly turned the campaign into a Serious Adult Conversation about The Big Issues. Where he keeps lying his ass off.

  121. @grumpy realist:

    The NHS would cover everyone from 0 to 21 years of age. At 21, you’d have to reconfirm your committment to it, otherwise you’d be dropped at that point. You could also drop out of the system entirely.

    That´s not necessary. As a native Brazilian I´m covered by SUS, our national health care system. I´m also covered by a insurance provided by my employer, a state government, and by private health insurance.

    The best model to me is to provide basic universal health coverage and then create incentives to people to buy health insurance. The idea that a “public option” would automatically kill private insurance is ridiculous.

  122. grumpy realist says:

    @André Kenji de Sousa: Oh, I’m sure that a private insurance system would exist even with NHS systems. I’m just giving the idiots who insist that everything government does is “eeevil” a hard time. If they want to go back to the system we had before (cherry-picking on part of insurance companies, denial for existing conditions, murder by spreadsheet, reneging on promises, high overhead), let them have it. I just think that when the crunch comes, a lot of people would be more willing to go for a cheap government system, even if it has some sort of rationing system and nags you to eat your vegetables.

  123. jukeboxgrad says:

    And speaking of lying liars, notice how ‘conservatives’ treat the concept of the “Medicare trust fund.” It’s simultaneously something that exists and doesn’t exist, depending on the rhetorical needs of the moment. This is what Mitt said yesterday:

    he’s taken $716 billion out of the Medicare trust fund. He’s raided that trust fund. And you know what he did with it? He’s used it to pay for Obamacare … And if I’m President of the United States, we’re putting the $716 billion back

    Back where? Back into “the Medicare trust fund.” All you have to do is ignore all the times ‘conservatives’ insisted there is no such thing. Like here (8/10/10):

    Social Security and Medicare ‘Trust Funds’ Are a Lie … There are no funds in the Medicare “trust fund.” … the whole idea of the Social Security and Medicare “trust funds” is a lie.

    And the same writer, also in NR, a couple of days later:

    There are no assets in the Medicare “trust fund.”

    So according to NR, people who claim there are funds in the “Medicare trust fund” are telling a lie. Which means they must think Mitt is a liar.

  124. jukeboxgrad says:

    (Starting a new comment because otherwise multiple links will trigger the spam filter.)

    So this is quite a lovely box Mitt has put himself in. Notice this revealing statement from Reihan Salam at NR last night:

    … there is a great deal of controversy and confusion regarding how we should think about the Medicare trust fund. Should its exhaustion be a source of concern or is it an accounting illusion? Those who think the Medicare trust fund matters will see Ryan’s FY 2013 budget as meaningfully different from PPACA’s use of Medicare savings to offset the cost of coverage expansion.

    Notice this question he asks: “Should its exhaustion be a source of concern or is it an accounting illusion?” What conservatives have been telling us for years is the latter. Above I cited an example of NR saying that. Here’s an example from Heritage:

    … there is no true Medicare trust fund. The program operates as a pay-as-you-go system, meaning revenue immediately goes out the door to pay for current benefits.

    Trouble is, if you believe that “there is no true Medicare trust fund,” it becomes nonsense to “see Ryan’s FY 2013 budget as meaningfully different from PPACA’s use of Medicare savings to offset the cost of coverage expansion.” As Salam has helpfully explained.

    Salam goes on to say this:

    There is a reasonable case to be made that Ryan, having voted to repeal PPACA in one instance and having applied its Medicare savings to the extension of the Medicare trust fund, consistently favors shoring up the Medicare program for current retirees, not using savings to fund coverage expansion. This is presumably why Ryan is perfectly comfortable embracing Romney’s position, which is that PPACA’s Medicare savings should be reversed to shore up Medicare.

    It’s important to understand what’s going on here. He’s trying to sell the same budget voodoo that Mitt and Ryan are now trying to sell. It goes like this: ‘It’s OK that Ryan assumes $700B in Medicare savings, just like Obama. Why? Because we take that money and apply it “to the extension of the Medicare trust fund,” which means we are using it “to shore up Medicare.” ‘ Uh, no, they’re not. They’re just using it to try to make their overall numbers add up, which means they’re using it to finance tax cuts for the rich.

    Heritage et al have been telling us for years that the “Medicare trust fund” is an illusion, but now we’re supposed to forget that, because the illusion is needed for Mitt’s latest spin. Here’s NR today promoting that spin:

    the Medicare cuts in Obamacare aren’t used exclusively to replenish the trust funds that pay Medicare benefits. Instead, they are used to pay for a massive expansion in entitlement spending

    Mitt wants us to think that Ryan’s Medicare cuts are being “used exclusively to replenish the trust funds that pay Medicare benefits.” This spin will work just fine with amnesiacs who can’t remember what NR used to tell us:

    the whole idea of the Social Security and Medicare “trust funds” is a lie

    Ryan said this yesterday:

    We’re the ones who are not raiding Medicare to pay for ObamaCare. … they turned Medicare into a piggy bank to finance ObamaCare. The Obama campaign thinks it’s an achievement that they raided Medicare to pay for ObamaCare

    Yes, the GOP is “not raiding Medicare to pay for ObamaCare.” They’re just raiding Medicare to fund tax cuts for the rich.

    The Ryan budget, which Mitt approved, “raided” Medicare by the exact same amount (as Obama), for the purpose of making the rest of Ryan’s numbers add up. That is, for the purpose of financing tax cuts for the rich. Now Ryan wants you to think that he’s putting that money aside in the “Medicare trust fund,” to “shore up” Medicare for the future. Trouble is, they’ve been telling us there is no such thing as the “Medicare trust fund.” They’ve been telling us it’s a lie, an illusion.

    Don’t expect too many journalists to understand this.

  125. Rob in CT says:

    The best model to me is to provide basic universal health coverage and then create incentives to people to buy health insurance. The idea that a “public option” would automatically kill private insurance is ridiculous.

    This is what I’ve always preferred: universal but rather basic coverage supplied via the government, and then private supplemental plans available in the marketplace. If you do that, you also get to get rid of things like the tax subsidy for employer-offered health plans (which do distort things, of course). This would certainly hurt private healthcare insurance companies badly, though. You’d slash their core business. Not that *I* mind that, but they should would.

    Which is why that was deemed too radical a reform by Obama & Co. They figured they had to get the healthcare insurance industry to stand down (and largely did it). I’m not happy about it, but I think the strategy was correct.