By Bernie Becker - 08/15/12 10:19 PM EDT
“For this gambit to succeed, Romney will need to defy the laws of political gravity. His bet is that voters will respect a hard-boiled approach to deficit reduction enough to stomach the unraveling of a program as popular as Medicare,” Schumer said in the memo, which his office provided to news media outlets.
“But the dirty little secret about the Ryan plan is that it inflicts its damage to Medicare without achieving its stated purpose of reducing the debt.”
To bolster his case, Schumer notes that the Congressional Budget Office has said that Ryan’s most recent budget framework wouldn’t come to balance until around 2040, and also chides the Wisconsin Republican for what he basically calls fuzzy math.
For instance, the New York Democrat calls Ryan’s proposed spending cuts “totally unrealistic,” including the idea that discretionary spending, including defense, could be reduced to under 4 percent of gross domestic product in 2050.
Schumer also points out that Ryan, now in his seventh term in the House, voted for George W. Bush-era policies — the Medicare prescription drug benefit and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq —that boosted deficits, and voted against the recommendations of the president’s fiscal commission.
“Right now, Ryan's perceived ‘strength’ is his sober approach to balancing the budget. In the days since Saturday's announcement, the Romney camp's spin has been that the pick of Ryan has the potential to ‘elevate the debate’ to a focus on the ‘big issues,’” Schumer wrote.
“By this logic, even if the details of Ryan's proposals are unpopular, his perceived commitment to fiscal restraint confers on him something of a halo effect,” he added. “But if Ryan is exposed as being unserious about deficit reduction, it negates the purported upside of his selection.”
A spokesman for Ryan, who Romney tapped as his running mate on Saturday, responded to the memo by saying the Wisconsin Republican was a proven bipartisan leader on budget issues.
The Romney campaign has been noting for days that Ryan worked with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) on his latest Medicare proposal, though Wyden has distanced himself from the GOP ticket in recent days.
“The President’s allies in Congress haven’t passed a budget in years, and his failed leadership has led to $5 trillion dollars in new debt,” the Ryan spokesman, Brendan Buck, told The Hill in a statement.
“At the same time, President Obama took $700 billion from current seniors on Medicare to fund Obamacare. America can’t afford any more of the President’s broken promises. That’s why Congressman Ryan has worked tirelessly to forge bipartisan solutions to solve our debt crisis.”
Romney has said this week that he would restore the roughly $716 billion in Medicare cuts that Democrats use to help pay for their healthcare overhaul.
Ryan’s budget also uses those cuts, but Romney’s campaign says it would repeal them.