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Nation/World

August 17, 2012

Undoing Obama's Medicare cuts may backfire on Romney

(Continued)

The Obama campaign was quick to seize on the issue.

“The fact of the matter is, what Romney is proposing now is to roll all that back, which would mean that Medicare would reach insolvency eight years earlier, which would mean that seniors would lose benefits,” David Axelrod, a senior political adviser to Obama, said yesterday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Romney’s running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, kept the Obama cuts in his budget, which envisions greater savings by shifting future retirees into private insurance plans with a fixed payment from the government to help cover their premiums.

“If you are going to restore (Obama’s cuts), then what it’s going to do is complicate the financial condition of Medicare,” said former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker, a fiscal conservative who says government health care programs are too costly.

“It’s going to affect your long-term plan to reform Medicare and reduce the deficit and mounting debt burdens,” said Walker, now heading the Comeback America Initiative, which promotes deficit reduction.

“If you are going to put that back, then how are you going to pay for it?” he asked.

Romney would “have to find other ways to get the cost down in the future,” said economist Marilyn Moon, a former trustee overseeing Social Security and Medicare finances.

“These (Obama cuts) were all on service providers,” said Moon, now director of the health program at the nonpartisan American Institutes for Research. Romney “would have three options: either cut it out of providers in a different way, ask beneficiaries to pay higher premiums in various ways, or raise taxes in order to pay for it.”

Romney made his promise to restore the cuts on Tuesday at a campaign stop in Beallsville, Ohio.

Obama “has taken $716 billion out of the Medicare trust fund,” Romney told supporters. “He’s raided that trust fund.

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