Romney vows to boost national debt by $716 billion, by David Lauter, LA Times: Before the presidential campaign hurtles off to the next skirmish, take a moment to notice what happened this week: Mitt Romney vowed to increase the national debt by $716 billion, and no one so much as blinked. ...
To recap: As part of the Obama health reform law, Congress voted to reduce payments to certain hospitals, insurance companies and other healthcare providers by about $716 billion over the next 10 years. The law directed the money to help pay for expanded prescription drug coverage for seniors – eliminating the so-called doughnut hole – and to help cover younger Americans who do not have insurance at their jobs.
When Rep. Paul D. Ryan, Romney’s choice as his running mate, drafted his budget plan, he ... kept those Medicare cost cuts and applied the savings to reducing the federal deficit. Why wouldn’t he, after all? Ryan was trying to close a huge budget gap, and here was a rare case in which Congress had already agreed to a spending restraint that was relatively non-controversial -- the hospitals and provider groups had agreed to the cuts, and they would not reduce benefits to Medicare patients.
But Ryan’s decision – logical though it may have been in the budget context – blunted a Republican attack on Obama for “raiding” Medicare. So on Wednesday, Romney made clear that he would eliminate the Medicare savings, and Ryan fell into line.
The move would mean Medicare’s main trust fund would run out of money in just four years, rather than 12 under Obama’s plan. And because Romney did not offer any new revenue to cover the $716 billion cost, nor any offsetting reductions, the price tag would simply be added to the national credit card – worsening the “prairie fire of debt” that Romney decried in a speech this spring. ...
I would have said "Ryan ... kept those Medicare cost cuts and applied the savings to tax cuts for the wealthy" instead of "Ryan ... kept those Medicare cost cuts and applied the savings to reducing the federal deficit."
Stimulus problem adds to Paul Ryan's woes, by Steve Benen: We talked on Tuesday about Republican vice presidential hopeful Paul Ryan having a stimulus problem: publicly, he claims to abhor President Obama's Recovery Act, but privately, he sought Recovery Act funds for his district and said they'd boost the economy. ...
Appearances of hypocrisy are perhaps the least important part of the story. Rather, the controversy matters for two important reasons. First, the revelations undermine the basis for Ryan's philosophical/ideological objections -- the Republican insists government spending can't create jobs and doesn't boost economic growth, but in his letters to the Obama administration, Ryan said government spending in his district can create jobs and does boost economic growth.
And second, Ryan got caught lying about his efforts -- twice. In 2010, Ryan specifically said he would not vote against something "then write to the government to ask them to send us money.... I did not request any stimulus money." In reality, Ryan penned at least five letters to two federal departments seeking grants under Obama's Recovery Act.
Yesterday, talking to a reporter in Ohio, Ryan again said, "No, I never asked for stimulus," even though he got called out for telling this same lie two years ago.
Late yesterday, hoping to make the problem go away, Ryan said in a statement that he "didn't recall" his efforts...
The degree to which Romney and Ryan are running against their former selves (or split into two selves that contradict one another) is pretty astounding.