In their first joint interview, the Republican ticket of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan hit back at President Barack Obama and Democrats who argue that Ryan’s budget will “end Medicare as we know it.”
Romney became pointed and almost a bit angry when asked about The Miami Herald‘s Sunday cover, which is bannered with the headline “Ryan could hurt Romney in Florida.”
“Think about that, by the way,” Romney said in the “60 Minutes” interview with CBS anchor Bob Schieffer. “There’s only one president that I know of in history that robbed Medicare $716 billion to pay for a new risky program of his own that we call Obamacare.”
“What Paul Ryan and I have talked about is saving Medicare, is providing people greater choice in Medicare, making sure it’s there for current seniors,” Romney continued. “No changes, by the way, for current seniors, or those nearing retirement. But looking for young people down the road and saying, ‘We’re going to give you a bigger choice.'”
But the charge Romney is levelling conflicts with independent fact-checkers and the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO found last month that the $711 billion in “cuts” come from reduced payments to hospitals and discounts on prescription drugs, while no current benefits are eliminated.
Ryan also brushed back against criticism of his budget reform plan, which would move Medicare to a subsidized private insurance model. The plan would permit those 55-and-younger to opt out of Medicare as it stands today, but it would not affect seniors already enrolled.
Earlier Sunday, Obama welcomed Ryan to the race but said Ryan’s vision, like Romney’s, was one he “fundamentally disagreed with.” On Saturday, the Obama campaign called Ryan’s budget plan “radical.”
Ryan hit back at those criticisms, using his mother as an example.
“My mum is a Medicare senior in Florida,” Ryan said. “Our point is we need to preserve their benefits, because government made promises to them that they’ve organised their retirements around. In order to make sure we can do that, you must reform it for those of us who are younger. And we think these reforms are good reforms. That have bipartisan origins. They started from the Clinton commission in the late ’90s.”
This post was updated at 11:00 p.m. ET.
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