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New day, same battle over Medicare

New day, same battle over Medicare
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Wednesday, August 15, 2012 - 4:43pm

(CNN) -- Four days after the naming of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney's running mate and there's no let up on the political pot shots over Medicare.

The Republican presidential challenger resumed his push back against Democratic attacks on the House Budget chairman's Medicare plan, once again claiming that the president's cut more than $700 billion from the popular entitlement program which guarantees health insurance to seniors.

"The president's cuts of $716 billion to Medicare, those cuts are going to be restored if I become president and Paul Ryan becomes vice president," Romney told CBS News. "You know, the president, when he was campaigning in Denver, Colorado, four years ago, said that Medicare was on a pathway to become bankrupt. Yet, he's taking $716 billion from the Medicare trust fund to finance Obamacare."

Romney made similar comments on the campaign trail Tuesday in Ohio and the message is hammered home in a new TV ad from his campaign.

"You paid in to Medicare for years. Every paycheck. Now, when you need it Obama has cut $716 billion dollars from Medicare," says the narrator in the commercial.

The Romney campaign says the 30-second spot will start running on Wednesday and describes the ad buy as "significant."

The Republican National Committee is also hammering home the same point.

"While President Obama thinks cutting $716 billion from current seniors to pay for ObamaCare is a good idea, we don't think it's an 'achievement' at all," said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. "President Obama has raided Medicare and proposed no plan to save it."

And the party committee released a web video that used a news clip of Obama campaign deputy communications director Stephanie Cutter to bolster their argument.

The Obama campaign says the Romney claim is wrong.

"The president took away subsidies, unwarranted subsidies to insurance companies, and he used that money to help lengthen the life of Medicare by nearly a decade. So when Gov. Romney says he doesn't support that, obviously, you know, that's problematical," senior Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod told CNN's Soledad O'Brien on "Starting Point" Tuesday.

And the campaign was quick to slam the Romney campaign commercial.

"Mitt Romney's ad is dishonest and hypocritical. The savings his ad attacks do not cut a single guaranteed Medicare benefit, and Mitt Romney embraced the very same savings when he promised he'd sign Paul Ryan's budget," said Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith.

Expect more pushback Wednesday from the president himself.

Campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that Obama, campaigning Wednesday in Iowa, "will talk about how his reforms have strengthened Medicare, saved millions of seniors on Medicare hundreds of dollars on their prescription drugs and cut the cost of Medicare by cutting wasteful spending out of the healthcare system, without impacting the benefits Medicare recipients receive by even a dime."

The Romney strategy is simple: Accuse the president of robbing a popular program (Medicare) to pay for a program (The Affordable Care Act) where support is divided among the public. A Romney campaign official says "the message here is that we are on offense on Medicare. This is a debate we invite."

The Romney campaign is getting the $717 billion figure from a July 24 Congressional Budget Office report, which measured the impact of repealing the health care overhaul law, which is known by many as "Obamacare."

The report says that under the repeal measure, "Spending for Medicare would increase by an estimated $716 billion over that 2013-2022 period." Those spending increases would be a result of more spending on hospital and medical insurance, offset by a decrease in prescription drug coverage.

The letter also notes that the projected $716 billion increase in Medicare spending if the measure is repealed does not signal a $716 billion decrease if the measure stays in place -- which is Romney's argument.

-- CNN's Alex Mooney and Ashley Killough contributed to this report

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