By Justin Sink
Paul Ryan accused President Obama of failing to outline his vision for a second term during a town-hall meeting Thursday in Florida.
Echoing the top of the GOP ticket, Ryan told a crowd in Ocala, Fla., that Obama is “not telling you what his second-term plan would be.”
“He's not saying that he is offering anything new,” the Wisconsin lawmaker said. “All he is offering is four more years of the same.”
“She paid her payroll taxes all those years, based upon the promise that the government would keep its promise to her,” Ryan said. “So that she could retire, she could move here in the winter — it is a little cold where I come from in the winter ... she's retired and she deserves to have this promise kept for her.”
He reiterated the frequent attack from the Romney campaign that Obama had shifted money from the Medicare program to help fund his national healthcare reform law.
“We know that his own people at Medicare are telling us, 7.4 million seniors will lose Medicare plans they have chosen for themselves,” Ryan said. “We know that he is going to take $716 billion from Medicare to pay for ‘ObamaCare’ if he got a second term.”
The president’s campaign has repeatedly argued that the money shifted from the Medicare program was the result of reduced administrative costs negotiated as part of the Affordable Care Act, and would have no impact upon the care provided.
Following his initial statement, Ryan fielded questions from Florida voters, including one from the mother of a special-needs child who she said had been denied health insurance. One part of Obama’s healthcare law blocks insurers from refusing to cover people with pre-existing conditions.
Ryan said that Republicans would work to change the healthcare exemption to the tax code so that people could maintain their employer-provided coverage even if they left their jobs, reducing the likelihood someone with a pre-existing condition would be left in the cold.
“If you don't get healthcare from work, you don't get the same kind of tax benefit to get your healthcare. We want to keep that same kind of tax benefit [and tie it to] the person and not the job,” Ryan said. “So if you go work for yourself or change jobs or if you lose jobs, you keep that tax benefit to pay health insurance.”
Ryan also said he would favor “pooling mechanisms” that would help subsidize care for people with pre-existing conditions and no insurance.
“What this means is, wherever you live there's a system that if you have a preexisting condition, if you have a family member that fits into this category, that's where our tax dollars should go first,” Ryan said. “It should go to make sure that those people don't fall through the cracks, they don't go bankrupt if you get breast cancer or something like that.”
Ryan was later pressed about what his administration would do about funding to NASA, a potent issue in the state that houses Cape Canaveral. The Wisconsin lawmaker used the opportunity to swipe at the president for saying “just about everything that is wrong today was the last president's fault,” parlaying that into an attack on the Obama administration’s changes to NASA funding.
“The Obama administration came in and they inherited a plan for NASA from the Bush administration. They had a plan for space. They jettisoned that plan,” Ryan said. “They put it on, basically got rid of that plan. Now we have effectively no plan. We are not putting people in space anymore.”
Ryan noted that NASA now sends astronauts to space aboard Russian spacecraft, and transitioned into an attack on the looming sequestration deal that could cut defense spending.
“This administration, in my judgment, misunderstands the critical national security value that a space program has for our national security as part of our defense of our nation,” Ryan said.
The vice presidential nominee also was pressed about what a Romney administration would do to match the president’s jobs programs and infrastructure improvements.
“Get the economy growing, number one,” Ryan quipped.
Ryan went on to say the president spent less on transportation than he did on green energy companies, which he said resulted in the recent bankruptcies of Solyndra and A123 Systems.
“About 6 percent of that $831 billion of borrowed money went to transportation,” Ryan said. “$90 billion went to green energy companies, that had great connections, were political donors and, what we got out of it were ... the government sending your hard-earned tax dollars to these well-connected companies, poof, a lot of them go bankrupt."