Ryan's Medicare Cuts Would Hurt Wisconsin and America's Seniors

Republican vice presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. refers to a list of deceased enlisted men during a campaign ev
Republican vice presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. refers to a list of deceased enlisted men during a campaign event at Partnership for Defense Innovation in Fayetteville, N.C., Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012. (AP Photo/Sara D. Davis)

As the nation takes a hard look at Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, people are starting to see what we in Wisconsin have known for some time: that the Janesville congressman is a well-dressed rehash of the policies the far right has been peddling for 30 years.

Nowhere is this more evident than Ryan's plans for Medicare, which would devastate health care for Wisconsin seniors.

Only days after Romney introduced Ryan as his running mate beside the USS Wisconsin, their campaign aired a new attack ad alleging -- falsely -- that President Obama's Affordable Care Act (ACA) "cuts" Medicare benefits by $716 billion.

In a reprise of Richard Nixon's "Big Lie" strategy, Romney, Ryan and their surrogates still repeated the false claim over and over again throughout the week.

As Ryan attempts to dismantle Medicare as we know it, he is trying to distract attention from his plan by falsely claiming that Obama is the one who is cutting Medicare. People in Wisconsin have not fallen for Ryan's illusion, and I expect voters across America won't either.

As has been widely reported, Ryan's budget plan, which Romney embraced with his choice of running mate, relies on the exact same $716 billion in Medicare savings that's included in Obama's health care law. (These savings, by the way, are generated by making Medicare more efficient, not by cutting benefits, as Ryan falsely suggests).

Obama uses the Medicare savings to make health care affordable for all Americans. Ryan, on the other hand, uses it to prop up a budget plan that replaces Medicare's guaranteed benefit with a voucher scheme that could raise health care costs on retirees in Wisconsin and across the country in future years by as much as $6,000 annually per beneficiary.

Ryan's plan also slashes health care for low-income families, cuts taxes for the wealthy and still runs a deficit of around two and a half trillion dollars.

By repealing the ACA, Ryan reopens the Medicare Part D "doughnut hole" and takes away improved prescription drug benefits that have already saved Wisconsin seniors over $72.5 million on their medicines. And he ends no-cost annual check-ups, cancer screenings, colonoscopies and other preventive services that over 648,000 Wisconsin seniors benefited from last year.

Of course, having a Wisconsin Republican mislead the public about the national health reform law is nothing new. Earlier this year, Governor Scott Walker in a Washington Post opinion piece misrepresented the findings of a leading national health care economist to wrongly suggest that the law would "devastate" Wisconsin.

And while PolitiFact predictably found Walker's claim to be false, many people, including those who disagree with him, had expected more honesty from Paul Ryan as a vice-presidential candidate. So far he's disappointing us.

And outside the most conservative voters, Wisconsin will not warm to Romney just because Ryan is on the ticket.