These interpretations of the Paul Ryan pick — that it is either a move of desperation or a really stupid choice — are wrong. While it’s true Democrats will run a Mediscare campaign like they did in 1996, Romney and Ryan have three powerful rejoinders this time around:
1. Medicare is already broken. We either reform it or let it destroy our public finances.
2. Obamacare exacerbates the problems in the Medicare system, since it takes $700 billion from Medicare to fund the newly created entitlement. Even the chief actuary for the Medicare and Social Security systems, Richard Foster, concludes that Obamacare will likely yield cutbacks in services to senior citizens rendered by Medicare.
3. While the original Ryan roadmap retains these Medicare cuts (though it eliminates the Independent Payment Advisory Board and uses them all to reduce the deficit rather than create a new program), Romney has indicated disagreement with this. Expect the ultimate Romney-Ryan plan to restore all funding to Medicare, just like the more recent Ryan-Wyden plan, which is cosponsored by Oregon’s liberal senator Ron Wyden.
Combine these three points, and Team Romney can say that, if you’re a senior citizen who is worried about Medicare, your best bet is to vote for the Republican ticket. The Republicans will protect the system; the Democrats are taking half a trillion from it over the next decade to fund a new entitlement.