Medicare Messaging War: Paul Ryan out with new explainer on Medicare overhaul

Chris Moody Contributor
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On the same day that Democrats won a special election in New York’s 26th district that party strategists said would be a telling referendum on the Republican effort to overhaul Medicare, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan released a video to further explain his reform plan in an effort to combat the Democratic talking point that the GOP wants to “kill” one of the nation’s most popular programs.

Republicans in Congress have rallied around the Medicare plan drafted in the budget resolution the House passed last month. The measure would overhaul the nation’s healthcare program for seniors by offering subsidies to individuals to buy their own plans in a private market. In response, Democrats have warned that Ryan’s plan would “end Medicare as we know it,” and one group is even running ads that show a Republican literally pushing an old woman off a cliff in her wheelchair.

Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, for example, who chairs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee emphasized Wednesday that the party’s success in New York has fueled an effort to continue hammering Republicans on Medicare, which other party leaders say will be the focal point of the 2012 campaigns.

“The results provide clear evidence that Democratic senators and senate candidates will be able to play offense across the country by remaining focused on the Republican effort to end Medicare and force seniors to pay thousands more for healthcare costs,” Murray said.

As Ryan attempts to convey in his new video, there won’t be a Medicare program for long unless his policies are enacted to “save” it. In fact, Ryan spends the first half of his new five-minute video explainer warning that the program will vanish on its current path.

“The truth is,” Ryan says, standing in the House Budget Committee room on Capitol Hill, “it’s headed for a painful collapse.”

Ryan frames his solution in the “big-government versus the individuals” language of the Tea Party that Republicans hope will continue to resonate with voters in the same way it did during the debates over the Democrats’ healthcare overhaul.

“The urgent need to reform Medicare and the president’s misguided approach have left us with a serious question to ask: Who should be making healthcare decisions for you and your family?” Ryan asks. “A government monopoly and a panel of bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.? Or you?”

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