Let's Recap Mitt Romney's Whiteboard Lecture, One Of The Most Bizarre Moments Of The Campaign

Mitt Romney

Photo: AP

At the beginning of a press conference Thursday in South Carolina, presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney announced that he was going to simplify the debate on Medicare — and he brought a whiteboard in to do it.”I know there’s an effort by some people to try and bring as much confusion to the topic of Medicare as possible,” Romney said of the campaign that has been waged back and forth in the last two days between his campaign and that of President Barack Obama. 

“But I want to bring as much clarity as possible. So I’ve prepared a small chart here, which will describe differences in our respective plans for Medicare.”

The press conference ended up being more noteworthy for a different topic — Romney’s tax returns. But the whiteboard lesson he gave to reporters served as one of the weirder moments on the campaign trail. 

Moreover, it didn’t quite accomplish the mission it set out to do. He didn’t offer many specifics to advance his policy plan forward. He offered pretty much no new information. In the end, it wasn’t nearly as simple as the three words that ended up on Romney’s plan: “No change” and “Solvent.”

Here's Romney's whiteboard. It's set to four simple columns: Obama and Romney on top, seniors and the next generation on the side.

There it is. Romney writes that Obama cuts Medicare by $716 billion for seniors.

Politifact pretty handily debunks this claim that Obama 'robbed Medicare to pay for Obamacare.' In short, there is little in 'cuts' to beneficiaries. The cuts come largely from how much the program pays to providers. Here's Politifact's summary:

What kind of spending reductions are we talking about? They were mainly aimed at insurance companies and hospitals, not beneficiaries. The law makes significant reductions to Medicare Advantage, a subset of Medicare plans run by private insurers. Medicare Advantage was started under President George W. Bush, and the idea was that competition among the private insurers would reduce costs. But in recent years the plans have actually cost more than traditional Medicare. So the health care law scales back the payments to private insurers.

There's more. Romney charges that 4 million people would lose coverage under Medicare Advantage.

The Washington Post notes, however, that Obama's plan simply shifts seniors from the Medicare Advantage program and does 'not result in the elimination of Medicare coverage for anyone.'

The last number in the column is 15 per cent.

This is no different than what Romney's campaign website has to say. While Romney hasn't offered many specifics about his own plan, however, he told ABC his plan is 'close to identical' with running mate Paul Ryan's on Thursday.

The Ryan plan effectively turns Medicare into a voucher system for seniors. The CBO estimates it will reduce federal spending on Medicare by 35 to 45 per cent by 2050, but it could dramatically increase out-of-pocket insurance costs for seniors.

Politico's Ginger Gibson summed up nicely what Romney has yet to provide specifics:

What Romney's outline doesn't include is a total-savings estimate, cost estimates for changing the plan, an age cutoff for when it would be implemented, how the vouchers would be administered, how the government-controlled plan would be administered or what effect his proposals would have on the deficit or current budget.

Meanwhile, the Obama campaign released its own whiteboard in response.

Learn more about the Romney-Ryan Medicare plan.

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