Our opponents want this election to be about Medicare, because frankly, they’ve done great in the past exploiting this issue by dishonestly scaring people. They’re trying it again. We think the real issue of this election is the economy, its future, and government’s role. But Medicare is in fact a big part of all that. And it can be a complicated and confusing issue. So let me try to address it with absolute clarity.
They say we Republicans have always wanted to destroy Medicare, and want senior citizens to suffer. Like we’re inhuman monsters. Now they’ve actually got an ad showing a granny dumped out of a wheelchair and over a cliff by Paul Ryan (if you don’t believe me, click here.) Come on. As if the Medicare drug benefit wasn’t enacted by Republicans! (Fiscal insanity, but never mind.)
But here’s the thing: they promise to protect Medicare, but refuse to say one word about paying for it. So how can you believe them? The truth is that, with medical costs continuing to rise, life expectancy continuing to rise, and baby boomers flooding into the system, Medicare is going bankrupt, and there’s no frickin’ way the country can keep paying for it without big changes. No frickin’ way. Democrats who promise otherwise are simply lying. It’s a promise they cannot keep.
Now, my running mate, Paul Ryan, has suggested a plan to fix Medicare and save it from bankruptcy. The Democrats tell you this plan to save it is actually a plan to destroy it. But since they have no plan to save it, they’re the ones who’d actually see it destroyed.
About Mr. Ryan’s proposal, there are three basic things you want to understand:
First, for people now on Medicare, there would no change. For anyone over 55 – also no change. Nobody’s Medicare would be “taken away,” and Democrats who say so are simply lying. Any changes would affect only people more than 10 years away from retirement.
Second, Democrats have criticized the details of Ryan’s plan. Fine. We’re not wedded to the details. What we Republicans actually want is not to shove that plan down the country’s throat, but instead it should be a starting point for serious bipartisan efforts to come up with a plan to save Medicare that most reasonable people can agree on. You know, Obamacare was shoved down the country’s throat, by the Democrats, without a single Republican vote in either house of Congress. And look how much recrimination that caused. We don’t think that’s the right way to do major legislation. So, again, we’ve come forward with a proposal to save Medicare; and we call on the Democrats to give us their plan. Then let’s talk and come up with a solution that’s best for the country.
Meantime though, Mr. Ryan has already gone in the bipartisan direction – his Medicare proposal was actually worked out together with a Democratic Senator, Ron Wyden, so it’s the Ryan-Wyden plan. And very basically, what we’re trying to do is to introduce an element of competition and consumer choice. We think that’s the only way to hold down costs. Have you looked at your medical bills, that your insurance or Medicare pays? They’re astronomical, mainly because you the consumer are not paying. Hospitals and doctors have no incentive to hold costs down or satisfy customers with good service, if the customer isn’t the one paying. They can bill whatever they want, and Medicare pays. No wonder it’s going broke.
Now, there is a third basic point. Again it’s something the Democrats refuse to be honest about – and I wish I didn’t have to either, because I realize it will lose me votes. But I have to tell you the truth, and the plain truth is that Medicare can’t be saved from bankruptcy without somebody paying more. One plus one can’t equal three. You know it’s the truth, so I’ll even repeat it: somebody will have to pay more (or get smaller benefits).
The Democrats tell you that we Republicans want to screw the poor and the needy, and protect the fat cats at their expense. So let me be crystal clear: not on my watch. When I say somebody will have to pay more, I’m talking about people who can afford to pay it. Especially (but not only) the richest. Read my lips: people who cannot afford it will not have to pay more and will not get smaller benefits. Period.
But, yes, Americans who are better off will have to pay more and will get reduced benefits. For Americans who are in that category – and let’s be clear here too; thanks to our wonderful free market economic system, the majority of Americans are in that fortunate category – you will have to pay more. And I want to say this to you: if you agree that Medicare should not be saved from bankruptcy at the expense of the poor and the needy, then somebody will have to pay more, and the unavoidable reality is that that means you.
Look, nation, we have a choice. Either we have a country whose economy is wrecked by an exploding and bankrupt Medicare program, and a resulting explosion of debts we can’t pay; or we pay more of our share to save the program, save the benefits for the neediest Americans, and save our whole frickin’ economy. I think we can afford to do this – and cannot afford not to.
That’s our choice. The Democrats don’t want you to understand this, but I do. And if you can’t accept this, if you cannot face reality, then vote for them.
And God bless America, because you’ll need it.