Medicare debate dominates Sunday TV talk-show discussions

August 20, 2012
By David S. Cloud, Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON — Democratic and Republican campaign operatives sniped over Medicare and taxes on the TV talk shows Sunday, while President Obama and GOP challengerMitt Romney attended church services with their families.

Kevin Madden, a Romney campaign senior advisor, defended Republican vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan‘s charge that the president “raided” $716 billion from Medicare to help pay for the 2010 healthcare overhaul.

“What President Obama did actually weakens Medicare,” Madden said on ABC’s “This Week.” “It takes $700 billion out of it and uses it to spend on a new entitlement, which is part of Obamacare.”

He said plans supported by Romney and Ryan would restore the funding to make Medicare “more solvent.”

The Obama campaign says it cut waste, fraud and abuse to reduce $716 billion in future payments to insurance companies and hospitals, and that it has used the savings, in part, to expand Medicare services to seniors and the disabled. Ryan’s own budget proposals contained the same cuts, Obama aides note.

Restoring the $716 billion in spending would force Medicare to run out of money in four years, Obama’s aides argued, and thus makes it less solvent.

“We’re happy to have a substantive debate [on Medicare], but we need some substance on the other side,” Stephanie Cutter, Obama deputy campaign manager, said on “This Week.”

Since Ryan joined the GOP ticket, the battle for the White House has largely focused on the Wisconsin lawmaker’s far-reaching budget proposals, including his proposals to partially privatize Medicare by issuing vouchers to seniors in the future.

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