Well, that didn't take long:
In an effort to scare senior citizens, Democrats repeated and overheated a charge that Politifact branded the 2011 “lie of the year” upon hearing that Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has joined Mitt Romney as a running mate. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee called Ryan “the architect of the Republican plan to kill Medicare” in a fundraising message sent by DCCC executive director Robby Mook. Mook explained the thinking behind making that charge in the next line, explaining that he wants to define Ryan in the minds of the American people as quickly as possible.
Remember, Politifact is a Left-leaning outfit, yet even they felt compelled to slam Democrats for their egregious distortions of Paul Ryan's Medicare plan. This debate is just getting (re) started, so here are a few key points to keep in mind as the "kill Medicare" falsehood gets spread far and wide:
(1) The Republican reform plan totally exempts anyone over the age of 55 from any changes. When President Obama promised Americans "if you like your plan, you can keep it" to push Obamacare, he didn't tell the truth. The Ryan plan explicitly, in black and white, protects current and soon-to-be seniors. No changes.
(2) The Democrats' non-plan does the opposite. It has already slashed more than half-a-trillion dollars (Update: $741 Billion, according to the latest CBO score) from Medicare to fund Obamacare, and it has established an unaccountable and extremely powerful bureaucratic board to ration care in order to keep costs down. To repeat, current seniors have already seen their Medicare cut by President Obama, not Republicans.
(3) Medicare's own accountants have calculated that Medicare will be insolvent within 12 years. As Democrats claim that Romney and Ryan want to "kill Medicare" or "end Medicare as we know it," they fail to mention that the calendar and basic arithmetic will do that in the face of inaction. Doing nothing is President Obama's plan because it tempts voters with the illusion that everything is going to be just fine, and that he's protecting them from "draconian cuts." He hopes this charade will get him through the election cycle. But reality is gaining on us. Medicare "as we know it" will be obliterated for generations to come unless we start making changes for the future, while shielding people currently at or near retirement from any switch. Between items two and three on this list, the truth is revealed: Democrats' plans cut Medicare, and Democrats' calculated inaction will result in its ultimate demise. The Republican plan is an urgently necessary move to save the program.
(4) After his plan was criticized for being too partisan in the first "Path to Prosperity" budget, Paul Ryan adjusted his reforms in the FY 2013 version. He updated his Medicare reform to embrace a bipartsian solution he co-crafted with progressive Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), which maintains the original "premium support" model, but includes traditional Medicare as an option for future seniors. Again, the Medicare reform plan for future seniors is bipartisan, and co-authored by a committed liberal who understands that the clock is running out to save the program. The updated version's provisions are also means-tested, meaning they entail more federal assistance to poorer and sicker future seniors than richer and healthier ones.
(5) The Romney/Ryan plan does not impose "draconian and radical cuts." In fact, the Republican budget increases spending. Every year. It simply slows the rate of increase. The most recent House-passed budget increases spending from $3.53 Trillion to $4.88 Trillion within the next ten years. This does, however, spend trillions less than President Obama's unanimously-defeated budgets envisioned. In case you hadn't noticed, we're broke, and it's getting worse.
Democrats are going to go all-in to ensure that these facts never see the light of day. They will try to frighten current seniors and paint Romney and Ryan as heartless monsters. The best response is to tell the truth, early and often -- and to push back hard. Why are Democrats actually cutting Medicare to pay for a new expensive entitlement program? Why have they set up a rationing board for the elderly? And what is their plan to avoid the 2024 Medicare expiration date, according to their own government numbers? As we've learned, they don't have answers to these questions. The president hopes he will evade these issues by constantly blaming and distorting. Don't let him get away with that abdication of leadership; Paul Ryan certainly won't. For these reasons, the Romney campaign says bring it on:
The Romney campaign relishes this fight. There is only one person in this race who has already cut Medicare for seniors, and that is President Obama. Obamacare cut Medicare for America’s seniors by $700 billion. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have a bipartisan plan to strengthen Medicare for today and tomorrow’s seniors. Obama’s campaign has accused Mitt Romney of committing crimes and killing people, and now they have turned their smear campaign to Paul Ryan. They have lost all credibility.
UPDATE - Rasmussen shows that Paul Ryan's favorability rating is above water by double digits overall, and sky high among seniors. This is a good starting point, but there are many persuadables, and the Left will throw everything they've got at him to plunge those figures into the toilet.
UPDATE II - The Obama campaign has jumped into the "ends Medicare" fray, and John McCormack has an excellent post supplementing the facts I've outlined above. Kevin will have more on this tomorrow.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography