The Obama campaign could have responded in one of two ways to Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as his running-mate. They could have elevated the debate and engaged Governor Romney and Representative Ryan in a discussion about the future direction of our country. Or they could launch baseless attacks on their opponents. Unfortunately, they chose the second path.
The Huffington Post recently published a piece by Representative John Dingell about Medicare. Representative Dingell and I both serve on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and while we have seen agreement on a few issues, this is one where we are clearly on opposite sides of the spectrum. Dingell begins by stating the obvious, Medicare is both popular and successful. However, he refuses to address the real and looming problems that plague Medicare. Instead, he relies on the same scare tactics we have seen before. Nowhere does he address the reality that without reform Medicare will be bankrupt by 2024 or the troublesome fact that the Obama administration has no plan to save the program.
This approach is typical of the Democratic response to Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as running mate. The Obama campaign is hoping to scare seniors across this country by pushing already-discredited claims about Paul Ryan and Medicare. In truth, Paul Ryan, along with members of Congress both Democrat and Republican, has attempted to find ways to save Medicare. Paul Ryan and Democratic senator Ron Wyden of Oregon worked together to produce a bipartisan solution that protects Medicare now and for future generations. Their proposals are not new. Instead, they have developed over the years, informed by bipartisan commissions going back to the 1990s.
If elected, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will make saving Medicare one of their top priorities. Their plan is based on the best parts of the bipartisan Wyden-Ryan plan. For those 55 or older, the Romney-Ryan plan makes no changes to Medicare. The Romney-Ryan plan will ensure that Medicare survives for future generations by allowing greater choice in the program and encouraging greater savings.
Why is President Obama so intent on attacking Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan on the issue of Medicare? They say that offense is the best defense, and the president has much to defend when it comes to this critical program. As Paul Ryan has put it, President Obama has treated Medicare like a piggy bank for his agenda. When the price tag of the Affordable Care Act was revealed, he took over $700 billion from Medicare to fund his unpopular health-care plan. By doing so, President Obama put his own pet project ahead of our seniors’ health care. This money was not reinvested in the program and not one cent went to fixing the Sustainable Growth Rate, ensuring that seniors continue to have access to their doctors.
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will fight for Medicare on their first day in office when they begin the process of repealing the president’s health-care plan and returning the $700 billion to Medicare. But they won’t stop there. They will end the trillion-dollar deficits of this president. They will focus on encouraging the people who drive the true engine of economic grown in our nation, our small business owners and job creators, by removing needless burdens and federal regulations. And their plan for fiscally responsible tax reform — lowering rates for all taxpayers while eliminating special loopholes — is the approach taken by the president’s own bipartisan fiscal commission.
The challenges facing our nation are great, but we can defeat them. It will take hard work, and it will take bipartisan efforts. Our economy is stuck in the slowest recovery in our lifetime, and millions of Americans are searching for jobs. This campaign should be about who has the best proposals to end this economic malaise and return our nation to the prosperity we expect. Mitt Romney has his own plan to reform our government, but in Paul Ryan, he also has a skilled partner with the experience and the know-how to fix the problems in Washington and get our economy moving again.
Paul Ryan has shown he has the resilience to tackle the real issues of the day. He won’t hide behind scare tactics and the politics of fear. He and Mitt Romney will work with both Democrats and Republicans, just as they have throughout their political careers. That’s not something that the Obama campaign should attack. In fact, it is exactly what we need.
— Michael Burgess is a congressman from Texas.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece has been updated since its original posting.