Just a day after Mitt Romney told reporters, “my plan for Medicare is very similar to [Paul Ryan’s] plan for Medicare,” former New Hampshire governor and Romney campaign chair John Sununu insisted on Tuesday morning that the former Massachusetts governor’s vision form Medicare reform is “very different” from Ryan’s proposal.
During a contentious appearance on CNN’s Starting Point, Sununu accused President Obama of stealing $716 billion from Medicare and insisted that Romney would protect the program. Asked to outline the differences between Romney’s campaign proposal and Ryan’s budget, Sununu admitted that Ryan maintains Obamacare’s reductions to Medicare — which he incorrectly argued would cut existing benefits — while Romney does not:
O’BRIEN: Let’s read then what comes out of Mitt Romney.com, which I have right here. Key elements of Mitt’s plan, nothing changes for current seniors. Medicare is reformed as a premium support system… it sounds awfully like the Paul Ryan Medicare plan.
SUNUNU: But it’s very different. For example, when Obama gutted Medicare by taking $717 billion out of it, the Romney plan does not do that. The Ryan plan mimicked part of the Obama package there. The Romney plan does not. That’s a big difference.
Sununu’s acknowledgment that Ryan preserves the $716 billion in Medicare savings complicates a Republican messaging campaign to use the ACA’s Medicare reductions as an “offensive” strategy against attacks on the Ryan budget. Romney accused Obama of gutting the program on Sunday, during an interview with CBS, as Ryan looked on.
Romney, incidentally, would have to cut as much as $2 trillion from Medicare to meet his goal of balancing the budget by the end of his second term.
Tara Wall, a communications adviser to the Romney campaign, told CNN, “there are no differences relative to how we address this going forward with these two great men at the top of the ticket.”
“Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have always been fully committed to repealing Obamacare, ending President Obama’s $716 billion raid on Medicare and tackling the serious fiscal challenges our country faces,” Lanhee Chen, Romney’s policy director, told TPM. “A Romney-Ryan administration will restore the funding to Medicare, ensure that no changes are made to the program for those 55 or older and implement the reforms that they have proposed to strengthen it for future generations.” Earlier this week, Romney advisers said he would have signed the Ryan budget — which includes the $716 billion in Medicare cuts.