As President Obama and vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan battle over which one represents more of a threat to Medicare, Ryan today will be calling on a biased but forceful surrogate to help him make his case: his mother.
Ryan is diving into the heart of the Medicare world, campaigning in central Florida in a massive retirement community called The Villages. And he’s reportedly bringing his 70-year-old mother along with him. Ryan’s mother, Betty Douglas, lives part of the year in Florida’s Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.
The appearance of Ryan’s mom signals just how crucial the Romney campaign sees this debate over healthcare. While Romney and Ryan want to portray the president as the one threatening Medicare, with Obama proposing $716 billion in cuts to help pay for Obamacare, the president’s side is eager to point to the portion of the Ryan budget plan that would change Medicare from an entitlement program to one where the government sends a check to seniors that they use to get their own private health insurance.
“When Paul Ryan’s mother stands next to him on the stage, the audience members can see themselves as standing with Paul Ryan, too,” said Benjamin Bates, an Associate Professor of Communication Studies at Ohio University. “By making that attack that personal and that vivid, Ryan’s got to trot out his own little old lady who supports him. If he’s accused of throwing grandma off the cliff, then he has to bring in Mom, because that’s pretty much the only way to defend against grandma.”
The Obama campaign got some ammunition from the Congressional Budget Office that they can use to scare seniors even more about Ryan: the office released an analysis saying that under Ryan’s plan, by the year 2030 most 65-year-olds will be personally responsible for two-thirds of their health care costs.
That’s a scary proposition for any senior on fixed income.
Romney has been attempting to distance himself from Ryan’s budget by saying that he has how own budget plan and Ryan’s idea to change Medicare to a voucher system would not be a part of a Romney administration. But that message appears to be getting lot in the maelstrom as both sides hammer away at who is scarier to seniors.
“We want this debate, we need this debate and we’re going to win this debate on Medicare,” Ryan said yesterday on the campaign trail.
In another distraction that has put the Romney campaign on the defensive, Ryan released just two years of his tax returns yesterday, showing that he paid a higher tax rate than the much wealthier Romney. The Obama campaign pounced in the Romney team for both of them releasing just two years, saying it’s clear they have something to hide.
But after Romney released just two years—2010 and his estimated taxes for 2011—there was no rational way Ryan could have released more than two years without Romney looking ridiculous.