They also need to proactively head off false attacks on Ryan’s Medicare plan. And if you don't think those attacks are coming, just ask that felonious, cancer-causing, tax cheat Mitt Romney.
Three points need to be drilled home about Ryan’s Medicare reform proposal, co-sponsored Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon. First, no one over the age of 55 would be affected. I suspect the attack ads playing in Florida may fail to mention this exclusion.
Second, Medicare's traditional fee-for-service would remain available. “Premium support” — the phrase for government funding of private insurance plans chosen by individuals—is an option for those who choose it. But unlike earlier iterations of Ryan's reform plans, the traditional Medicare program would compete with private insurers.
And third, overall funding for Medicare under the Ryan-Wyden plan would grow at the same rate as under President Obama’s proposals. How this amounts to “gutting Medicare” and “ending Medicare as we know it” isn't clear.
The Ryan-Wyden plan aims to use market competition -- you know, that thing that gives us better and cheaper smart phones every year -- to provide seniors with more affordable, higher-quality choices while keeping Medicare and the broader budget from going off a cliff.
But the Romney campaign needs to hit these points early and often. Waiting to respond, as they too often did regarding the baseless and frankly scurrilous attacks on Gov. Romney’s business record, is a dangerous game. If Romney and Ryan are aggressive, they’ve got a good chance to win not only the election, but a mandate to put the federal budget on a sustainable track while reversing the slide toward ever-increasing government control over individuals’ lives. But these arguments won’t make themselves. Romney and Ryan need to be assertive.
Biggs is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. He previously served as principal deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration.