Guest Post By Aubree Parsons — As soon as Mitt Romney announced he chose Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) as his Vice Presidential pick, Democrats immediately launched criticism and the media began outlining Ryan’s highly controversial budget proposal which would essentially turn Medicare into a voucher program. Critics have scorned the proposal, stating it would dismantle Medicare’s framework; a program favored heavily by seniors the nation over.
While the Ryan budget is not breaking news, it does place a considerable question mark over the effectiveness of the Romney/Ryan ticket and the pair’s chances of carrying Florida’s 29 electoral votes in the general election. Yes, it’s true that Romney won the Republican Primary in the Sunshine State, but adding Ryan to the ticket opens up new vulnerability as a large swath of Florida’s voting population is comprised of senior citizens.
After stumping this past weekend as a duo, Romney took some time away from his second-in-command to immediately go on the defensive on Monday morning in Florida. Romney pledged that his administration would protect Medicare for Floridians and made the claim that it is President Obama who actually has the plans to cut the assistance program by $700 billion in order to fund the GOP-coined “Obamacare.” However, many democratic strategists state the Republican team is misstating the reality of Obama’s reforms, which do not slash benefits for recipients or cut program spending, but rather slow future growth in spending, directly affecting providers.
“We want to make sure we preserve and protect Medicare,” said Romney on the campaign trail in Florida. It is widely accepted by program analysts that at current funding levels and senior dependence, Medicare will go bust by 2024. Ryan states that, while Washington holds the responsibility of fixing the program for future generations, he also noted in a 60 Minutes interview on Sunday night that he has a personal interest in seeing it perpetuated. Per Ryan, his mother is, “A Medicare senior in Florida. We need to preserve their benefits because the government made promises that [older] individuals have organized their retirements around. In order to do that, we must reform it for younger individuals.”
It shouldn’t be expected that the Medicare conversation will stop in Florida anytime soon and the Romney/Ryan team insists that their plan for the program is reform and improve, not dismantle. Moreover, the presumptive Republican nominees state that the origins of this suggested reform have bi-partisan roots and were originally suggested during the Clinton Administration, one of the only administrations in recent history that had a balanced budget passed in Congress.