After hitting his Republican opponents for failing to help farmers and planning to cut the wind energy tax credit, President Barack Obama Wednesday will turn his sights to Medicare.
According to the president's re-election campaign, Obama's remarks in Dubuque, Iowa, will focus on how the administration's reforms will strengthen and protect the program that provides health insurance for the elderly.
Many political observers expect the debate about Medicare to become a central element of the campaign following presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney's selection of Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., as his running mate.
Ryan is the author of a House budget that proposes radically altering the nature of Medicare for those not already receiving benefits or near retirement age, shifting it from a plan that guarantees medical coverage to one that offers seniors a fixed credit with which to purchase private insurance.
Democrats and many critics of the Ryan plan have said that the "voucher system" the Wisconsin Republican put forward as chairman of the House Budget Committee would unfairly shift the rising costs of care to the elderly and essentially end the government guarantee for older Americans.
Obama's campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki, speaking to reporters as Obama made an unscheduled stop to have breakfast with a group of veterans, said that the president's reforms are aimed at cutting waste and fraud out of federal spending, while keeping benefits - including a new prescription drug benefit - untouched.
Obama, Psaki said, "will lay out the choice between his plan and the Romney-Ryan plan to end Medicare as we know it, leaving new retirees with nothing but a voucher in place of the guaranteed benefits they rely on today."
She added, "This kind of plan forces people with Medicare to pay an extra $6,400, all so Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan can give tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires."
The campaign also rolled out a new Web video Wednesday morning hitting the Republicans with the same line of attack, accusing Romney and Ryan of using "bogus" and false attacks on Obama's plan to "hide" their plan to "end Medicare."
The campaign said in a written statement that Ryan and Romney were both attempting to attack Obama for making cuts to Medicare that are also included in Ryan's budget and asked what other long-held plans that Ryan might also be willing to renounce - from the Medicare plan to cutting funds for the Medicaid insurance for the poor and children.
"Of course, it's not so simple for Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan - they can't just walk away from the Romney-Ryan Budget," the campaign release said.
by RTT Staff Writer
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