By Justin Sink - 08/14/12 10:11 PM EDT
Paul Ryan doubled down on Romney campaign attacks on President Obama's handling of Medicare, saying Tuesday it was "irrefutable" that the president was "damaging Medicare for current seniors" in his first solo interview since being named the GOP's vice presidential nominee.
The recently named vice-presidential candidate added that Republicans were excited to have a debate about the issue.
"And you have to reform it for the younger generation in order to make the commitment stick for the current generation," he continued. "President Obama is actually damaging Medicare for current seniors. It's irrefutable. And that's why I think this is a debate we want to have, and that's a debate we're going to win.”
Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney's campaign has been aggressively hitting the president on the issue in campaign speeches and advertisements in an attempt to inoculate the Republican ticket on the issue after Ryan's selection.
Ryan's recent budget proposal would shift Medicare funding to a voucher-like program, a move that financial analysts and Democrats argue would increase costs for seniors. And while the Obama campaign has been slamming Ryan for that proposal, Romney's team has instead focused on $700 billion in Medicare cuts that were part of the president's signature healthcare law.
Ryan's budget proposal also included the same $700 billion in cuts, however, which came from eliminating subsidies to insurance companies and cutting waste and fraud — neither of which would affect health services or benefits for seniors. Asked about that discrepancy Tuesday, Ryan said his preference would be to repeal the entirety of the president's healthcare reform law.
“I joined the Romney ticket. And what Mitt Romney is proposing to do is repeal all of ObamaCare. I have voted repeatedly in Congress to repeal all of ObamaCare, including this cut of $716 billion to pay for ObamaCare," Ryan said. "So what's very important here — and a lot of seniors don't know this — is that 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.”
In a statement Tuesday, the Obama campaign blasted a Romney ad taking a similar tack as "dishonest and hypocritical."
"The savings his ad attacks do not cut a single guaranteed Medicare benefit, and Mitt Romney embraced the very same savings when he promised he’d sign Paul Ryan’s budget," Obama spokeswoman Lis Smith said. "Because the president is eliminating subsidies to insurance companies and cutting waste and fraud, we’ve extended the life of Medicare by eight years. The truth is that the Romney-Ryan budget would end Medicare as we know it: People with Medicare would be left with nothing but a voucher in place of the guaranteed benefits they rely on today.
"And they do it all to pay for massive tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires — the very same top-down economic scheme that crashed our economy and devastated the middle class in the first place."
Ryan went on to discuss the budget that would be proposed by a Romney administration more generally, avoiding specifics but arguing details would be ironed out in the legislative process.
“That is something that we think we should do in the light of day, through Congress, unlike how ObamaCare was passed. ... We don't want a backroom deal, what — what the Ways and Means Committee did, what the House passed is to have a process for tax reform so that we do this in front of the public," Ryan said.
The House Budget Committee chairman avoided pledging a date by which the budget would be balanced, but argued the Republican administration would break from the president in offering a pathway to doing so.
“Well, I don't know exactly when it balances because we haven't — I don't want to get wonky on you, but we haven't run the numbers on that specific plan," Ryan said. "The plan that we've offered in the House balanced the budget. I would put a contrast. President Obama never once, ever, has offered a plan to ever balance the budget. The United States Senate, they haven't even balanced — they haven't passed a budget in three years.”
Ryan also dished on the relationship between himself and the presumptive Republican nominee, saying they "just kind of developed a chemistry with one another and a mutual understanding of each other.”
“You know, we spent about five days on the road, five 14-hour or so days, and in between all of those stops driving from you know, Appleton to Green Bay to Janesville to Milwaukee," Ryan said. "We got to know each other; we conversed on policy issues, on where to take the country. And sooner or later we basically started sharing the microphones at these town-hall meetings and we just kind of developed a chemistry with one another and a mutual understanding of each other.”