I guess we should have seen this one coming.
Speaking at his alma mater Miami University in Ohio, Paul Ryan slammed President Obama for adopting Medicare cuts that, until last week, were openly supported by Ryan himself. [...]
Ryan went on to say that "what I don't think he'll be telling people is that the president took $716 billion from the Medicare program -- he raided it to pay for Obamacare."
Consider this remarkable series of events:
1. President Obama extends new benefits to seniors on Medicare and finds savings in the system to strengthen Medicare's finances.
2. Paul Ryan approves of Obama's Medicare savings and incorporates them into his own budget plan.
3. Mitt Romney endorses Ryan's plan, which includes Obama's Medicare savings.
4. Romney changes his mind, and tries to argue he's for and against the Medicare savings at the same time (for them in Ryan's plan, against then in Obama's law).
And finally 5. Ryan denounces the Medicare savings he supports.
So to review, the Romney/Ryan ticket is for and against Obama's Medicare savings, for and against including Obama's Medicare savings in the Republican budget, for and against extending benefits for seniors, and for and against strengthening Medicare's finances -- all at the same time.
Complicating matters, Romney/Ryan intends to deliberately eliminate the savings -- "We're putting the $716 billion back" -- which necessarily means pushing Medicare closer to insolvency and $716 billion in additional entitlement spending that Romney can't afford.
It's like the Republican ticket is sinking deeper into the quicksand of policy stupidity.
For her part, Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul told the AP, "The idea that restoring funding to Medicare could somehow hasten its bankruptcy is on its face absurd."
Just for fun, let's flesh out to see who's actually being absurd.
The AP's summary on this is actually terrific.
The reason: Obama's cuts also extended the life of Medicare's giant trust fund, and by repealing them Romney would move the insolvency date of the program closer, toward the end of what would be his first term in office.
Instead of running out of money in 2024, Medicare says its trust fund for inpatient care would go broke in 2016 without the cuts. That could leave a President Romney little political breathing room to finalize his own Medicare plan. [...]
Obama's cuts were not directly aimed at Medicare's 48 million beneficiaries; instead they affect hospitals, insurers, nursing homes, drug companies and other service providers. Simply undoing the cuts would restore higher payments to those service providers. And that would cause Medicare to spend money faster.
There are really only two possible explanations for this. The first is that the Romney/Ryan ticket and its team of policy aides are so remarkably ignorant, they've launched this policy offensive without learning the basic details of Medicare. The second possible explanation is that the Romney/Ryan ticket and its team of policy aides believe Americans are idiots.
Which of these two is right? I honestly have no idea, but it'd be awfully nice if someone asked them.
Here, I'll make it easy for those who can ask Romney questions directly: "Gov. Romney, how do you intend to pay for the additional $716 billion in Medicare spending?" Or how about, "Gov. Romney, why do you think it's a good idea to eliminate Medicare savings and push the program closer to a fiscal crisis?" Or maybe, "Gov. Romney, why do you support a policy that would force seniors to pay more for prescription medication and preventive care?" Or how about, "Gov. Romney, do you understand that forcing Medicare to spend more money would be bad for its financial future?"