Biden on Medicare: 'Who do you trust?'

Vice President Biden and Rep. Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanOn The Money: Senate confirms Gensler to lead SEC | Senate GOP to face off over earmarks next week | Top Republican on House tax panel to retire Trump faces test of power with early endorsements Lobbying world MORE (R-Wis.) clashed Thursday night over Medicare, as Biden charged that Republicans have never cared much for the program.

"These guys haven't been big on Medicare from the beginning," Biden said.


Ryan, the architect of House Republicans' controversial plan to partially privatize Medicare, sought to personalize the issue, and opened with an assault on the $716 billion in Medicare cuts in President Obama's healthcare law.

"Medicare and Social Security are going bankrupt. These are indisputable facts," Ryan said.

Biden defended the $716 billion in cuts, noting that they extended the life of the Medicare trust fund. He did not mention that Ryan's budget would have preserved the same cuts, but did cite support for the healthcare law from the American Medical Association and AARP.

AARP, though, has asked the Obama campaign to stop implying that it has endorsed Obama by mentioning the group's support for healthcare reform.

Biden noted new benefits in Medicare and pooh-poohed Ryan's arguments that the health law will reduce seniors' benefits.

"All you seniors out there, have you been denied choices?" Biden asked, looking directly in to the camera.

When asked about raising the Medicare eligibility age — which Obama has supported — Biden pivoted to attack Ryan's Medicare plan and say the White House would never sign on to a privatization model.

"We will be no part of a voucher program," Biden said, saying the Ryan plan would not keep up with costs in the long term.

Ryan also criticized the "new ObamaCare board" with the power to cut Medicare payments to doctors and insurance companies. The Independent Payment Advisory Board has become a focal point of Romney and Ryan's attacks. The 15-member panel is tasked with slowing the growth in Medicare spending, but is not allowed to cut seniors' benefits. Republicans say lower payments to doctors will eventually drive doctors to stop taking Medicare.

"You know, I heard that death panel argument from Sarah Palin," Biden said, referring to his 2008 vice presidential opponent.